Steve G.

Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

LEE WRIGHTS FOR PRESIDENT 2012 EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE

In Activism, Austrian Economics, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Drug War, Iran, Iraq War, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Middle East, Minorities, Music, Nanny State, Police Brutality, Presidential Candidates, War on December 4, 2010 at 4:37 pm

For more information:
Brian Irving, press secretary
Phone: 919.538.4548
E-mail: press@libertypoint.org

Wrights pledges a ‘wise and frugal’ principled campaign
BURNET, Texas (Dec. 4) – In the four months since R. Lee Wrights began exploring the idea of seeking the Libertarian presidential nomination he has become even more convinced how critical it is for the Libertarian Party to be the anti-war party in 2012.

“The Democrats have not just completely failed to stop the ever expanding cycle of war, they continue to enlarge the cycle,” he said. “When the Republicans take control of the U.S. House, there will be no one left to speak for peace, no one but Libertarians,” Wrights said.

“When I announced formation of an exploratory committee on July 4, I said the Libertarian message in 2012 must be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war.” Wrights said. “Since then many Libertarians have told me they agree, and some have signed on to the campaign to help make it so.”

Thomas Hill, of Charlotte, N.C. has known Wrights for 10 years. He agreed to chair the exploratory committee because he said Wrights has proven to be a consistent and principled libertarian.

“He has never been afraid or ashamed of the axiom of non-aggression,” Hill said. “A true patriot through and through, Lee loves our great country and sincerely wishes to not only restore our once great Republic but to guarantee all men and women are truly free to live their lives and pursue their peaceful and honest dreams.”
“You cannot lead a nation into peace and prosperity while constantly initiating aggression against other nations,” said Norman Horn, who signed on as webmaster. “War is the ultimate evil and must be vigorously opposed by all true libertarians.”

Other members of the committee include: Brian Irving, press secretary; Robert Butler, treasurer; Julie Fox, assistant treasurer; Sean Haugh, events coordinator; Zachary Smith, campus coordinator, and; Katie Brewer, social media coordinator.

Wrights said he intends to run a campaign that will mirror the way a Libertarian president would govern. “I plan on running what Thomas Jefferson would probably call a ‘wise and frugal’ campaign,” he said. “It will be professional and well-run, a campaign all Libertarians can be proud of, but we won’t waste money on frills and we will rely heavily on grassroots activists.”

He said he is determined that whoever wins the 2012 nomination is totally committed to proclaiming the message to stop all war. To that end, Wrights has pledged to commit ten percent of all donations to his campaign to gain ballot access in all 50 states.

The committee also wants to ensure the 2012 nominee is equally committed to running on an unequivocal libertarian platform. “We need a candidate who is not ashamed nor afraid to proclaim the true libertarian message of individual liberty and personal responsibility, without compromise, without watering down and without pandering to those who are afraid of freedom,” said Irving.

Wrights, a Winston-Salem native, is a writer and political activist living in Texas. He is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All.
-30-

The Audacity of Hoping for Change: Barack Obama’s Broken Promises to America

In Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, Corruption, Democrats, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Media, Politics, Republican, War on June 15, 2010 at 11:16 pm

This article was written almost a year ago. I have not added to it or expanded on my concerns. I think that anyone who reads this can themselves think of the President’s stance on issues, his lack of actual leadership, his failures over the year and a half to give us any hope that things will be better by November, 2012.

_____________________________________________________________________________

On March 26 [2009], only two months after Barack Obama had been sworn in as President, I wrote and posted an article on “Constitutional Oaths“. I also sent an email message to friends and family about the article with this message:

 “I proudly voted for Barack Obama for President of the United States. I never thought that I would so soon think that impeachment for violation of his Constitutional Oath of Office should be discussed. I feel sick and ashamed of my country.

https://lastfreevoice.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/constitutional-oaths-and-a-plea-to-president-obama-2/ 

“Right now I am feeling that there is no point in continuing giving a damn about any of it. I am about ready to unplug my TV, turn off my computer, crawl into my dark room and only come out to get a book, relieve myself and maybe eat. Our national evil has now passed to ANOTHER administration and I don’t know if I can take it.

“I do NOT want anyone to call me or pester me about talking about this. My own words in the past and the news are very clear and speak for themselves. I am tired and I literally want to vomit. I don’t think that this bridge can be unburned. Now, I just want the whole thing to collapse and get it over with. I am still waiting for that meteor to land on me and save me from all of it.

Yes, that was me back in March [2009], when I first believed it might be appropriate to investigate whether or not Obama should be impeached. Not for some far-right extremists cries for his head for any and everything he does… for even simply existing and holding the office of President; not for some lunatic conspiracy theories but rather for legitimate constitutional reasons. Was I the first Obama supporter to raise the issue of impeachment? I personally believe that when a candidate makes campaign promises they are creating an oral contractual agreement with their constituents… “You elect me and I will DO these things, and / or make my best EFFORT to accomlish these goals“. They don’t necessarily have to SUCCEED at what they promised but they DO have to at least fight for those things. I said in the 1990s that those Republicans who signed the ‘Contract With America‘ should have had class action lawsuits filed against them for BREACH of Contract. Until we hold our politicians accountable for what they say to us when they are running for office, what is their motivation to change their relationship with those that they ask for their votes?

I was watching The Daily Show tonight (because both Countdown and The Rachel Maddow Show were supplanted with non-stop crap about the death of Michael Jackson… big deal… NOT news) and Jon Stewart was talking about how Obama, a former teacher of Constitutional Law, thinks that it is appropriate to block access to information about Dick Cheney because HE MIGHT BE MADE FUN OF. (http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-june-25-2009/cheney-predacted) After that, Stephen Colbert did his Word of the Day segment about Obama’s failure to keep promises that he made on gay issues… and his latest is being done almost exactly 40 years after New York’s Stonewall riots.  (http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/232014/june-25-2009/the-word—stonewalling)

I was going to list categories of Obama’s broken promises (on government transparency, on the ‘war’, on Guantanamo, on torture, abortion rights, on pretty much everything) but it would already fill a book to try to do so. Instead, I copied links to legitimate news stories (mostly, if not all, from the left or neutral positions). These stories are NOT by Obama haters. They are by people who supported him and are feeling betrayed or by neutral news sources. Here are some of them so that you can read them for yourselves:

 http://www.alternet.org/story/140507/obama’s_broken_promises/

 http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/06/06/sirota/

 http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/

 http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hRdIJDxVpdhYoXnxKGfPOn8lZJKAD991TH9O0

http://promises.nationaljournal.com/

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/6/17/despite_campaign_promises_president_obama_adopts

http://www.suntimes.com/news/sweet/1548444,obama-100-days-promises-kept-broken-042909.article

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=91286

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/05/15/1933734.aspx

http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/election/1129-obamas-broken-promises-openness-ending-military-commissions

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23915.html

Now, I want to take a slight shift here and lecture to those on the far right, the conservative extremists who hate Obama and would no matter what he does… especially Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. You have already made yourselves irrelevant to any but those who already agree with you. You spent eight years with your nose shoved up George Bush’s ass and, no matter what he did, you defended him. The problem with news in America is NOT bias. Bias itself is not bad… as long as it comes with honesty. I do not watch Kieth Olbermann because I agree with what he says. I watch Keith Olbermann because when he makes an attack on someone he backs it up with verifiable documentation as to when something happened, and what the context is. I would watch a conservative Olbermann as well, if there were one, but there isn’t. The far right media long ago abandoned honesty and integrity when they were on the side of those in power. Because of HOW they tried to defend Bush and attack his critics, they cannot be accepted as legitimate voices of opposition now. Opposition is NOT about blindy attacking who or what you hate, it is about journalistically showing why your opposition is valid. It is also about supporting what someone you are in opposition to does that is acceptable and ONLY attacking them when they are legitimately in the wrong. The far right has no concept of how to fulfill the necessary role of ‘loyal opposition’ so they simply attack blindly and maliciously in the simple hope of hurting… someone. What they don’t see is that they don’t have to make up ANYTHING because there are so many legitimate and supportable reasons to attack that all they are doing is showing how devoid of integrity or intelligence THEY are. All they have to do is investigate and tell the stories that they can back up and let the rest go.

I know that it is a mantra of the far right to hate Olbermann and the “liberal media“, but he backs his attacks up with who, what, where, when, why, and how… he gives names, dates and places to allow us, his viewers to verify what he is reporting to us.. The other thing that the far right misses is that most journalist on the left will not cover up for the side that they support when it is in the wrong. When Obama screws us all, the legitimate media which supported him will also openly and publicly denounce him when he is wrong. IT ISN’T ABOUT BIAS, IT IS ABOUT HONESTY!

I voted for Barack Obama as President. I did what I don’t do… I trusted a politician… and I trusted the Democratic Party to actually change things and push hard to the left in order to shift American back to the middle. I was not wrong to vote as I did. I voted for who I believed would be best as President. I voted for who I was willing to take a chance on but, unlike most people I know on the far right, I am intellectually honest enough that I will say when the emperor has no clothes… even the emperor I supported. The are many things that make politics in America the shame it is. One of them is when people put their own personal egos above honesty about those they support. What is important now is NOT how those who were in opposition to Obama criticize him, it is how those of us who supported him criticize him.

I could probably go forever about this but if my point hasn’t already been made and understood, more words won’t change that. To anyone who wants to comment on this article, this is NOT a forum for hit-and-run drive-by comments from the left OR the right. I don’t want to hear from anyone on the right making blanket attacks or smears saying that “lefties” or “libs / liberals” or “Democrats” are ALL like something and neither do I want to hear anyone from the left making blanket attacks saying that “right wingers” or “conservative nuts jobs” or “Republicans / Repubs” are all like something. I don’t want to hear anyone from either side making some ‘clever’ play on words, like “Repukes” to describe the other side. America needs both liberals AND conservative, Republicans AND Democrats. It isn’t whole sides who are to blame, it is specific, usually extremist ends of different ideologies that are what most people REALLY hate. And don’t attack those you disagree with JUST BECAUSE you disagree with them, attack or mock someone for being a moron, for writing something stupid that they can’t document or support. It is much more effective to challenge someone to prove what they make claims about that it is to just hate them. So, talk about specific promises he has broken or WHY you think it is good or bad that he broke a specific one; talk about the law and The Constitution; talk about… God, just talk like you have a God-damned brain in that head of yours.

Rhys M. Blavier

Romayor, Texas

“Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all, Honor”

© Copyright 2009 by Rhys M. Blavier

Earl Ofari Hutchinson Scares Me

In Drug War, History, Immigration, Libertarian, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Minorities, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Republican, Ron Paul, US Government, War on February 24, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Three days ago, Mr. Earl Ofari Hutchinson posted a piece at The Huffington Post concerning Ron Paul, the man who won the straw poll at the 2010 CPAC thanks largely to the huge number of young people who attended the event.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hutchinson’s post contains a number of errors as well as a number of rather disturbing comments and implications.

Before I address those concerns, however, I wanted, simply as a point of objectivity, list some things on which I disagree with Dr. Paul:

(1) Although Paul does supports gay marriage (as he made clear in interviews with Elliot Schrage and with John Stossel), he unfortunately also supports the so-called Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is both unconstitutional and heterosexist. I do not understand how Paul can rationally defend his support for this legislation, since it creates a federal definition of marriage which the federal government has no authority to create, and since it is, once again, heterosexist.

(2) Ron Paul unfortunately does not support open borders, even though government regulation and planning of human migration is both economically backward and unconstitutional.

(3) Ron Paul supports copyrights and patents, whereas I do not.

(4) Ron Paul does not share my nuanced (and difficult to describe in short passages) view on abortion.

And, finally, (5) Ron Paul is not an anarchist, and as such, is simply not radical enough.

These are all flaws that Ron Paul has, but compared to other politicians, these flaws are so few in number that I’m willing to look past them and throw my support to Ron Paul. He is one of the few politicians in either establishment party for whom I would not feel uncomfortable voting.

With these points dutifully addressed, I believe it is now appropriate to detail the flaws I find with Mr. Hitchinson’s post.

Mr. Hutchinson comments on what he calls Ron Paul’s “controversial off beat quips on race matters,” but fails to give even one quote to illustrate what sort of “quips” Paul allegedly makes.

It is possible that Mr. Hutchinson is referring to the Ron Paul Newsletters from the ’80s and early ’90s, but I believe it has been fairly-well demonstrated that Ron Paul did not author these, and was likely unaware what the specific articles in his newsletters even said. Of course, this isn’t to say we should not hold Paul to task for being an irresponsible editor; we most absolutely should. There is no defence for his irresponsible failure to even read what was being published in his newsletters. But, at the same time, there is not one shred of empirical evidence I have ever come across to indicate that Ron Paul himself is in any way racist or has ever said anything disparaging about other “races.” (I have opted to put the word “races” in quotation marks for, in my opinion, “race” does not actually exist; it is nothing more than a social construct. I regard myself as a member of the human race.) In 2007, I conducted a detailed analysis of the Newsletters. The results of my analysis are available here.

Mr. Hutchinson also references “a 30 second TV spot that ran in New Hampshire during the 2008 campaign,” an ad that was not particularly tasteful, nor particularly individualistic. What Hutchinson fails to mention is that many grassroots Ron Paul supporters disliked the ad and made their discontent known. I should know: I was one of them. Here is what Justin Raimondo, another Ron Paul supporter, had to say of the ad.

I suspect that Paul issued this ad to appeal to those conservatives who viewed him, ignorantly enough, as “soft on terrorism.” I actually approve of Mr. Hutchinson’s critique of the ad itself, but it would have been nice if he had presented a balanced acknowledgement of its negative reception amongst Paulians.

Then, shockingly and disgustingly, Mr. Hutchinson attacks Ron Paul for not being bloodthirsty enough. Ron Paul had correctly asserted that slavery could have been and should have been ended without war. Paul had also correctly asserted that no other country that abolished slavery engaged in civil war to do so. Mr. Hutchinson refers to this as “historical dumbness” but fails to show even a shred of evidence to the contrary of Paul’s claims.

I don’t if Mr. Hutchinson has ever studied in detail the civil war era, but I have studied it to some degree, and what I discovered had caused me to lose all respect for Lincoln. Growing up, I had considered Lincoln a hero. But upon studying the matter, I discovered (1) that the war was not even fought on the grounds of ending slavery, and that the slavery issue was not even brought up until halfway into the war; (2) the slavery issue was only brought up as a means of enticing the South to rejoin the union, and Lincoln made it abundantly clear that he was willing to keep slavery going if it meant the union would be reunited; (3) the abolitionists of the day were not fans of Lincoln, and were the first to point out that his Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free a single slave; (4) Lincoln engaged in a form of enslavement called conscription; (5) Lincoln jailed dissenters for speaking out against war, and even suspended habeas corpus; and (6) Lincoln made openly racist statements about black people that ought to sicken any modern American, liberal or conservative.

I must admit, I find it downright scary that Mr. Hutchinson dismisses Paul’s claim that we can make meaningful change without resorting to war.

Mr. Hutchinson claims that Paul “asserted that blacks are criminally inclined, political dumb bells, and chronic welfare deadbeats.” I would like to see Mr. Hutchinson present one verified quote from Paul on this. Again, while there were indeed disgusting, racist comments that made their way into the Newsletters, there is no evidence that Ron Paul wrote or even read said comments. If any evidence were to arise, I would be the first to denounce Paul; yet empirical evidence remains un-presented.

While there was indeed a few white supremacists who supported Dr. Paul, there is no evidence that a “hobnob” occurred with them. Moreover, the vast majority of Paul supporters were extremely embarrassed when it came to light that there was some racist scumbag who was planning to vote for Paul. This is why so many Ron Paul supporters in 2007 came to Paul’s defence, saying that Paul was not a racist and that the tiny number of white supremacists ought there planning to vote for Paul did not represent the rest of us.

Hutchinson scares me when he criticised Ron Paul for correctly pointing out that “[g]overnment as an institution is particularly ill-suited to combat bigotry.” Does Mr. Hutchinson not know that government is a particularly racist institution? It was an institution called “government” that murdered innocent Jews simply for being Jewish; it was an institution called “government” that sent innocent Asians into dirty camps in California; it was an institution called “government” that instituted Jim Crow laws, which systematically infringed upon the rights of a people simply for looking a little different; it was an institution called “government” that protected and defended the institution of slavery centuries. In fact, the U.S. government is still racist: just look at how the war on drugs is used to attack blacks so much more often than whites, despite the fact that whites use just as much drugs as blacks. Government is racist, government is patriarchal, government is evil. Mr. Hutchinson cites a few tiny examples of a government doing some less-indecent things, as though this somehow undoes or excuses governments around the world for all the horrors they have unleashed upon people. It does not! Moreover, if Paul errs in any way on this matter, it’s in not being even more opposed to statism than he is.

Mr. Hutchinson also writes that “Paul’s views are a corn ball blend of libertarianism, know-nothing Americanism, and ultra conservative laissez faire limited government.” I hold, however, that there is nothing “limited government” about conservatism. Perhaps this is a minor complaint, since so many people do define the term in so many different ways; but, I nevertheless desire to state my position on the matter, and in so doing, to promote the definition I employ for the term.

More importantly, Mr. Hutchinson makes the error of describing Paul’s foreign policy as “neo-isolationist.” In reality, Paul’s foreign policy is far more similar to that of the classical liberal Richard Cobden, as Dr. Thomas Woods has pointed out. Paul has nothing against employing diplomacy and open dialogue with other countries, nor has he anything against trade with other countries; in fact, it is still the popular liberal foreign policy view that open trade between countries diminishes or eliminates the tendencies for war-making between said counties. Paul isn’t supporting the goal of cutting America off from the rest of the world, he simply opposing American imperialism in other countries. I do not know if I should infer from Mr. Hutchinson’s comments whether or not he supports imperialism, war-mongering, and militarism, but if he does, then I should hasten to add that such an aggressive foreign policy scares me.

Finally, Mr. Hutchinson says that Paul’s speech at CPAC contained “a pinch here and there of racial baits,” but again Mr. Hutchinson fails to give even one example.

In conclusion, Hutchinson’s piece is poorly researched and poorly argued. While I believe there are legitimate criticisms one can make about Paul, this article reiterates many of the unfounded ones that have been demonstrated to be false time and time again. While Hutchinson does make a couple good points, these are unfortunately overshadowed by his veiled militarism and other statist viewpoints. Thus, I would hope to see less articles of this nature from The Huffington Post in the future.

—Alexander S. Peak

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Confused Man Crashes Plane

In Communism, Corruption, Crazy Claims, Media, People in the news, Protest, Taxation, US Government on February 18, 2010 at 8:56 pm

A Confused Man

This morning, a confused man named Joseph Andrew Stack, crashed a plane into a building in Austin, Texas that housed IRS offices.

The man, before crashing his privately-owned plane, wrote a message on his website, which is now being called the Stack Manifesto.  In reading this manifesto, one can see just how absolutely confused this man was.

It seems that most blogs and message boards have been focusing on this man’s ideology, which is quite hard to pin-point.  He appears to oppose heavy taxation while also supporting government involvement in healthcare.  He displays a clear hatred for big government, big business, and big unions alike.  And the last two lines of his manifesto seem to imply that he considered communism a lesser evil than capitalism.

His mixture of libertarian, communist, populist, and socialist sympathies, thus, make it impossible to pinpoint the man.

With that said, he does nevertheless present some reasonable comments about problems faced in our society.  The problem, again, is that the man is clearly confused; thus, he conflates things that oughtn’t be conflated, and he often errs in the direction of his rhetorical attacks.

The man’s confusion was manifested this morning in his suicide-as-protest, when he crashed into a building with IRS offices.

People Matter

Unfortunately, the online news media fail to focus on the most important issue: was anyone killed?

I’ve searched through a variety of articles, and yet few present any information regarding whether anybody (other than Stack himself) died in the crash.  I finally found what I was looking for from Channel 8 News in Austin.

It appears that one person (other than Stack himself, presumably) died in the crash, and thirteen others were injured.  It also appears that Stack lit his house on fire this morning with his family still inside; luckily, they escaped.

Illiberalism

In my opinion, this is more than enough information to completely condemn Stack for his deed, just as the The Humble Libertarian blog does:

As the Editor-in-Chief of The Humble Libertarian, I unequivocally and without qualification, condemn this brutal, senseless, and stupid act of violence.  As a libertarian, I am incensed that Joe Stack took it upon himself to take innocent lives in the name of less government spending and lower taxes.

The writer makes it clear that Stack is not a libertarian, writing, “Libertarianism emphasizes non-coercion, non-aggression, and peaceful coexistence among people.”

Actions speak louder than words, and even if Stack’s rhetoric had been 100% in line with plumb-line libertarianism (which, obviously, it was not), his actions would necessarily belie his words.

This is not to say that we cannot or should not have sympathy for what Stack went through.  We most definitely should.  But his experiences do not justify the actions he took.

Had it been the case that Stack had crashed his privately-owned plane into an unoccupied government building, I would be whistling a very different tune right now.  I would actually be praising Stack for his brave act of defiance.  But, sadly, Stack cannot be cheered, for he is a murderer, and thus unworthy of praise.

A Libertarian Critique

A proper libertarian understanding of justice can illuminate just how problematic Stack’s actions ultimately were.  In order to evaluate Stack’s actions, let us consider the views promoted by the libertarian anarchist Murray N. Rothbard in his 1982 book, The Ethics of Liberty.

Although Rothbard defends the concept of using force defensively, i.e., using force to repel aggression (where aggression is defined as the initiation of force or fraud), he is very clear that responsive force is only ethical if it is in proportion to the force to which it is responding.  On page 85, Rothbard provides a very clear description of the limits of responsive force:

[U]nder libertarian law, capital punishment would have to be confined strictly to the crime of murder.  For a criminal would only lose his right to life if he had first deprived some victim of that same right.  It would not be permissible, then, for a merchant whose bubble gum had been stolen, to execute the convicted bubble gum thief.  If he did so, then he, the merchant, would be an unjustifiable murderer, who could be brought to the bar of justice by the heirs or assigns of the bubble gum thief.

The news report does not make it clear whether the persons who were killed or injured were all IRS agents or not, nor even whether they were all government employees.  Thus, while taxation is certainly and undeniably a form of theft, it would be impermissible to kill the IRS agents as retribution for their crime.  For, in so doing, Stack became an aggressor.

Perhaps we need not even go this deeply into analysis, however, for remember, Stack lit his house on fire with his family inside.  Unless it turns out that every member of his family that was inside of the house happened to be a murderer, Stack had clearly engaged in attempted murder of innocent people even before setting foot on his plane.  He was, thus, a criminal by libertarian standards, and one even more dastardly than those criminals we call IRS agents, who, by and large, at least aren’t murderers.

It is quite clear, therefore, that Stack did not care who he killed in his strive to retaliate, and even if people who have never worked a day in their lives for the state apparatus happened to be in the building at the time of the crash, Stack’s attitude was apparently, “So what?”

This brings us back to Rothbard, who wrote on pages 189 through 190,

[I]f Jones finds that his property is being stolen by Smith, Jones has the right to repel him and try to catch him, but Jones has no right to repel him by bombing a building and murdering innocent people or to catch him by spraying machine gun fire into an innocent crowd.  If he does this, he is as much (or more) a criminal aggressor as Smith is.

The same criteria hold if Smith and Jones each have men on his side, i.e. if “war” breaks out between Smith and his henchmen and Jones and his bodyguards.  If Smith and a group of henchmen aggress against Jones, and Jones and his bodyguards pursue the Smith gang to their lair, we may cheer Jones on in his endeavor; and we, and others in society interested in repelling aggression, may contribute financially or personally to Jones’s cause.  But Jones and his men have no right, any more than does Smith, to aggress against anyone else in the course of their “just war”: to steal others’ property in order to finance their pursuit, to conscript others into their posse by use of violence, or to kill others in the course of their struggle to capture the Smith forces.  If Jones and his men should do any of these things, they become criminals as fully as Smith, and they too become subject to whatever sanctions are meted out against criminality.  In fact if Smith’s crime was theft, and Jones should use conscription to catch him, or should kill innocent people in the pursuit, then Jones becomes more of a criminal than Smith, for such crimes against another person as enslavement and murder are surely far worse than theft.

Conclusion

Joseph Stack acted unethically.  While we can sympathise with his struggles, we cannot, if we are libertarians, condone his aggressive, anti-social acts.

Although I would like to see revolution, it cannot be achieved with the methods employed by the confused Stack.  If we want to see positive change, nonviolent civil disobedience is a far better method, both tactically and ethically.  If there is one thing I sincerely believe, it is that there is something in the nature of the universe that prevents aggression (i.e., the initiation of physical force or fraud) from ever yielding the desired results.  If we fight the state using aggression, the unintended consequence will not only be that we will become the very thing we hate, it will also be that we will drive away public support for our noble cause.  But in using nonviolent civil disobedience, we force the state to show the guns it is holding, we force it to stop hiding that the entire state apparatus is built on violence.

Murdering an IRS agent will never solve the problems we face.  It won’t bring an end to taxation, and it certainly won’t help to convince other IRS agents that their occupation is unethical.  But if we use nonviolent civil disobedience, we thereby force the IRS agents (and other government employees of the world) to recognise that they themselves are actually threatening innocent people with violence, and this realisation will go a long way to promote the expansion of liberty.

—Alexander S. Peak

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Williamson Declares for Regional Representative

In Activism, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, People in the news on January 13, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Williamson Declares for Regional Representative
By Scott M. Williamson

With tax revolts springing up through the grassroots, medical marijuana initiatives sweeping the country, and a renewed commitment to ending Real ID, the Libertarian Party has an exciting future ahead. As the liberty message catches on, our party has a unique opportunity to grow and elect candidates nationwide. To harness this political energy to advance the drive for liberty in our country, we need new energy on the Libertarian National Committee.
Scott
Last month, I contacted State Party leaders and grass roots activist. I said I was listening. What did you want to tell me? You told me ballot access, outreach, local campaigns, and activist training were at the top of your agenda. I’ve heard your message. I believe I can help set our party on the path that you asked for. I am excited to announce my candidacy for Regional Representative for the current region four.

Our National Committee’s first responsibility is a fiduciary one. Committee members have a moral obligation to insure the party’s money is spent wisely. It is not only how much money you spend, but what you are spending the money to do. As a Regional Representative I will seek to change where the LNC spends our money. More of our money should be spent on the work of politics. A key issue is transparency, donors need to know where their money is spent.

You can lose an election and win a campaign. In many states we gain ballot access if a candidate wins a percentage of the state wide vote. If we spent money in these states on statewide campaigns we could gain ballot access in that state. This could lead to spending less on ballot access in Presidential election years and free up more money for campaigns and for ballot access in those states where it is the hardest to gain ballot access.

As your regional representative I will continue listen to what you have to say. By keeping in regular contact with state and local leaders and sharing your good work with the party as a whole, I will facilitate communications between the states in our region, so you can adopt what is working from other states and avoid things that are not working.

The hard work of politics is done by those who volunteer their time and money. It is you the local activist who spreads the message of individual freedom and personal responsibility. It is you the local activist who digs deep into your own pockets to support candidates and issues. Our National committee should be helping you more. The National Committee should provide online, free, usable brochures, web page templates for our candidates, and training for people who want to run for office or campaign for an issue.

As we continue to reach out to those at tax revolts, antiwar rallies, gun festivals, and audit the Fed groups we will expand our party membership. We need to harness the talent and experience we already have in our party and offer training to those who wish to join us in our fight for freedom.

These are just a few ideas that will set us on the paths you advocated in your letters and phone calls last month. I am excited about the future of our party and have the energy to help lead the way. I look forward to continually hearing your ideas and working with you to bring about a libertarian society. Together we can change the country. I ask for your support and look forward to meeting you in Saint Louis, if not sooner.

The current Region 4 includes Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Scott Williamson is currently the S.T.A.R Representative of Outright Libertarians USA, Chair of Outright Libertarians Nashville and the Secretary for the Libertarian Party of Nashville and Davidson County. He is often a guest on Queer Talk Radio and Out and About TV political round table where he promotes the libertarian philosophy to the GLBT community. Scott holds a degree in Political Science and resides in Nashville, TN with his partner Brian Rhinehart. Scott Williamson can be contacted at scott.williamson01@comcast.net

Where Was The Libertarian Party?

In Activism, Civil Liberties, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Democracy, Democrats, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Medical Marijuana, People in the news, Politics, Republican, US Government on November 25, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Election Day 2009 has come and gone. Relatively speaking, this election was as insignificant as any off-year election is, as opposed to a mid-term election, but it still could have been an important year for the Libertarian Party, if we had simply bothered to show up. There were six elections / ballot initiatives which could have possibly been affected by the Libertarian Party… if we actually had a long-term strategic plan. As it is, some things happened for which it is notable that the LP had no role in. In no particular order, let’s look at where we could have had real impacts this year.

Governor’s Race – New Jersey: New Jersey voters tossed out their incumbent Democratic Governor, Corizine, in favor of Republican Chris Christie. It may have happened because Corizine is very unpopular with the citizens of his government-corruption prone state .While Christie’s election is not necessarily a bad thing, what made this election notable was that it swung on independent voters. Christie won 49% of the vote, Corizine won 44% and independent candidate Chris Dagget walked away with 5% of the vote.

Governor’s Race – Virginia: Republican candidate, Bob McConnell, with 60% of the vote, easily won election over his Democratic opponent, Creigh Deeds. For over 35 years, Virginians have consistently voted into office Governors of the opposition party to that of a sitting President, so this win might have seemed inevitable. What made this race notable for the LP is that it was again the independent voters who made the difference. In 2008, Virginia bucked its own tradition of voting for Republican presidential candidates and, instead, voted for Democratic candidate Obama. In that case, Obama won because Virginia’s independent voters were pretty evenly split between Obama and McCain. This year, however, independent voters were 2 – 1 in favor of McConnell and we can see the results from that quite easily.

Mayor’s Race – New York: In this race, Independent candidate Michael Bloomberg won a very narrow victory against his Democratic opponent, the essentially unknown City Comptroller. The name of the Democratic candidate is not important. What is important is that even with spending approximately $100,000,000 (yes, 100 million) dollars of his own money, Bloomberg only won 51% of the total vote, only 5 points ahead of his Democratic opponent. This will be Bloomberg’s third term, which was only possible because he supported changes to New York City’s term limit law, which had limited mayors to only being able to be elected for two terms. A strong Libertarian presence could have raised the term-limit issue by speaking strongly for them.

House of Representatives Race – New York’s 23rd District: What can be said here that hasn’t already been said? In what was probably the most noteworthy race of 2009? For the first time in over 150 years, this district will not be represented by a Republican. The story is remarkable. The Republican Party chose Dede Scozzafava, an NRA-approved candidate who also was pro-choice and in favor of same-sex marriage. The Democratic Party chose an un-noteworthy sacrificial lamb, Bill Owens, because the New York state House has a one person majority and they didn’t want to risk losing that majority by running their state Representative in an “unwinnable” race. So what happened? The far-right stepped in and ran their own Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman, against Scozzafava. Why? Because she wasn’t conservative enough to satisfy far-right extremists, like Sarah Palin and Dick Armey. I think that this race was probably the most important this year because for what it signifies. The extreme far-right conservatives are not interested in Republican Party loyalty, they put political ideology above all else. Hoffman had no knowledge of or concern for “his” district’s local issues, he didn’t even live in that district In a move reminiscent of the worst examples of the “rotten boroughs” in British politics before the 20th century, the national leaders in the far-right conservative movement found someone whose only “qualification” was the purity of his ideology. Don’t worry though, if Hoffman HAD won, he promised that he would move into the District he would then be representing. Scozzafava eventually pulled out of the race and put her support behind the Democratic candidate. The extreme conservatives didn’t simply put their own candidate in a roll to beat the Republican candidate; they chased a loyal Republican out of the Republican Party, itself. In the end, enough loyal Republicans still voted for her that Conservative Hoffman lost. The final tally? 49% to 45% to 6%. I told you, folks… they’re eating their own.

This race, more than any other, demonstrates the collectivist desires of the extreme far-right conservatives… Local issues are not important to them; they want nothing less than to fill Congress with extreme conservative political ideologues who will put the desires of the conservative movement above every other consideration. Ideological purity is their litmus test, and having elected officials who will do the bidding of political masters instead of serving the needs of their constituents is a model for a one-party state with a collectivist government. We have seen such systems before and, trust me; their loyalty is NOT to their constituents… it is to their party. The far-right conservative extremist movement is trying to lead America down a very dangerous road.

In addition to these for elections, there were two ballot initiates that need to also be included in our summary. The first of these was the vote to overturn the law which passed the Maine legislature that made same-sex marriage legal in Maine. Drawing an immense amount of support from OUTSIDE the state, the conservatives managed to overturn that law by garnering 53% of the public vote to repeal it. The other ballot initiative we need to make note of was the approval in Breckenridge, Colorado of a law which decriminalizes all personal possession of one-ounce or less of marijuana. State and federal laws are still in place but for the first time, a city has stood up and said “it isn’t worth the government fighting to enforce those laws”. And who was responsible for this victory? If you said the Libertarian Party, you would be completely wrong. The organization that was responsible for getting 71% of the voters to approve that law was the modestly named ‘Sensible Colorado’… 71 freaking percent of the voters approved this and the LP had no hand in (and, thus, get no credit for) this win. Both of these initiatives were about personal freedom, personal MORAL freedom. If we, as Libertarians, are not the ones who can stand up for the side of freedom, then who the hell needs us?

So, what lessons should the LP learn from these elections? A couple of things. One is that being an extreme far-right, conservative neo-Republican party will not win for us. Those people are not disaffected, they are simply scared. They have their own machine and we would simply get swallowed entirely by them… and good-bye to the Libertarian Party. Another lesson is that independents really do matter. They might not be enough to win an election on their own, but that can certainly swing an election. In these elections we can all see the importance of a liberal movement. If we can mobilize it, we can win. The moderates, independents and liberals who turned out in numbers sufficient to elect Obama last year are the unmotivated and disaffected pool of voters we can turn to. There is power there, strength that is simply waiting to be utilized.

The Republicans are feeling elated about winning the two governor’s races this year. They are patting themselves on the back by seeing importance on the wrong victories. While governors might be the Chief Executives in their state, they have no role in formulating national legislation. The two House elections this year, both of which were won by the Democratic candidates, are much more significant in the larger picture of current American politics. What this says about the 2010 election possibilities is fascinating.

Candidates in reliable Republican districts will now be facing primary challenges from the far-right if they are not seen as being ideologically pure enough. Why is that important? Remember center-left Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island? He had to spend most of what he had in his campaign war chest to beat a far-right Republican opponent for the Party’s nomination. After the primary fight, he didn’t have enough money left to effectively campaign for the Senate seat, itself, and he lost to the Democratic nominee. We can look for more of this in 2010 as big money from national figures fighting for their far-right agenda will flood into the coffers of Republican candidates who aren’t seen as being conservatively pure. Any primaries in which the far-right challenger looses will leave the winner with little or no money to campaign for the actual seat or office in question.

Since Obama’s election a year ago, he has turned this country’s very active liberal base into an unmotivated “lost generation” looking for someone to give them hope. THAT is where our future lies. WE need to be the ones who can break the American liberals out of their ennui, to rally and mobilized the untapped political power they represent. THEY are the people who can make or break elections. Those people are looking for leadership and hope. Now is the time to bring back Ed Clark’s Libertarian movement. Now is when we need his “low-tax liberals” to rise up again and take the Libertarian Party back from the neo-Republicans. In every one of the elections I have mentioned here, WE could have made a difference, we could have made ourselves known again to the general public, we could have been leaders… and, to be politically viable, our future rest with being able to harness the unfocused liberalism which Obama has let wither away. The conservative extremists are destroying the Republican Party and the Democratic Party is showing itself to be incapable of leadership. There are holes being torn in American politics and, as nature abhors a vacuum, those holes WILL be filled. What we have to ask ourselves is, can we the party that fills those holes?

Since 1984, the LP has driven itself to an extreme end of the American political spectrum, an end that is mostly allied with the extreme far-right. That is not what first attracted the general public to the idea of libertarianism. It was the combination of the ideas of fiscal responsibility AND liberal social policies that first put the LP on the lips of the American people. Both the Republicans and the Democrats parties are moving farther and deeper into their own ideological extremes. I believe that any two-party system is going to naturally gravitate between polar opposites. The reason that it is important for America to also have a centrist party is because there needs to be a party that can comfortably welcome people from the right, left and middle. What makes the Libertarian party important is not conservative or liberal politics; it is our view of the role and function of government. What we oppose is authoritarianism. Personally, I am pretty far to the left while the political figure I know and admire the most is pretty far to the right; I believe that some government is necessary and she is an anarchist. Where we find commonality is our shared belief that neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party are serving the American people. THAT is why we both share a belief in libertarian philosophy, and the day that we can get both my moderate right Republican father and my independent green (liberal AND vegetarian) sister to vote for our candidates is the day that we will know that we have arrived.

Rhys M. Blavier
Romayor, Texas

“Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all, Honor”

© Copyright 2009 by Rhys M. Blavier

Yesterday’s Townhall Meeting With Ben Cardin: Part III

In Activism, Health, Libertarian, Live-blogging, Media, Nanny State, Protest, US Government on August 13, 2009 at 4:43 pm

The event having ended, the crowd stands up and many file to exit.  Some stand around to talk with one another.  One gentleman comes to me to inquire about the meetings of the College Libertarians of Towson while many others, at least twenty, comment to me that I asked a great question.

As I exit the building, I see night has arrived.  I also see what I had not expected: hundreds of people outside with signs and flags.

One woman is holding a Gadsden flag, and I enquire as to where she got it, hoping to perhaps be able to purchase one of my own.  She informs me that she had gotten it at a Tea Party protest.

Although posters and signs had been banned inside the building, they were on full display outside.  There were also persons handing out flyers with information regarding a petition they wished for attendees to sign, a petition declaring their objection to the government’s new plan.

Walking from the building to the road, virtually every protestor there was against the government’s plan, many holding signs declaring government involvement in healthcare to be socialist.  I saw virtually no counter-protestors in favour of the statist plan until I reached the road itself, where the pro-statism counter-protestors stood on one side of the road and the anti-statism protestors on the other.  A quick glance at the two sides confirmed what one might suspect: the anti-statism side, which was chanting “No Obama care, no Obama care!” was larger than the pro-statism side.

One protestor, on the anti-statism side, yelled to me as I was crossing the street, “Did he answer your question?”  I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond.  After all, Cardin indeed had responded to my question, but not in any satisfactory way.

Still receiving compliments for my question, I made my way to my truck.  Traffic was slow, but I eventually escaped, driving past both groups of protestors.

All in all, it was a rather good event.  It was an absolute pleasure to see the masses verbally tearing down a member of the political class, instead of treating the politician like some holy cow not to be touched or demeaned.  There is nothing magical about politicians, after all—they are humans, just like us; they are flawed, just like us; and, in the state of nature, they are our equals, not our glorious, unquestionable superiors.

This is not to say that all of the sentiments of those who attended should be applauded.  Rather, it’s to say, as Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1787 to Abigail Adams, that the “spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive.  It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all.  I like a little rebellion now and then.  It is like a storm in the Atmosphere.”

Those wishing to contact their representatives to encourage them to adopt a separation of healthcare and state are encouraged to visit DownsizeDC.org.

—Alexander S. Peak

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Yesterday’s Townhall Meeting With Ben Cardin: Part II

In Activism, Health, Libertarian, Live-blogging, Media, Nanny State on August 12, 2009 at 5:01 pm

The first four questions were selected from among the blue cards submitted earlier in the night, and were read by the administrator in the green tie.

The first question, read at 7:34, asked whether “illegal” immigrants would be included in the healthcare system, to which Mr. Cardin responded that they would not.

The second question, read at 7:35, concerned small business.  Cardin responded by claiming deep concern for small business, and noted that he was on a committee dealing with small business for this exact reason.

At 7:36, the question read asked how these new proposals did not constitute socialised healthcare.  Not surprisingly, Mr. Cardin tried to assure us that it was not; the audience, however, was not buying it.

Finally, at 7:37, the question read asked how these new proposals could possibly save us money.  More on money, later.

At 7:38, the floor was finally opened to direct questions from the audience, unfiltered by the man in the green tie.  A few minutes were taken up in setting up the microphones, which the administrators wanted to set up no closer to the stage than aisle eight.  Thus, the lines that had quickly formed had to keep stepping back.  I shan’t list all of the questions asked, nor Cardin’s response to each—I will, however, list the more interesting or popular ones.

At 7:43, a gentleman asked about tort reform, and why it has not been included in any of the proposals.  This question received huge applause from the audience.  When the applause dwindled, he added, “Is it because most members of Congress are lawyers?”

A gentleman at 7:45 asked whether Congress would be included in any plans that are adopted, to which Cardin said they would.

At 7:47, an audience member asked Mr. Cardin to cite the specific clause, section, and article of the Constitution that grants to the federal state the authority to get itself involved in matters of health.  This question, to the best of my memory, received a standing ovation.  A woman behind me yelled to Cardin, “I have a copy [of the U.S. Constitution] here if you want to see it!” but I am sure she was heard only by those in her general vicinity, given the loud nature of the applause.

Around 7:53, I had the opportunity to ask my question.  I had been working on it all day.  My original draft was three-and-a-half note-card pages long, and included discussion of anarchism.  And had the majority in the audience appeared in favour of the statist policy suggestions, I probably would have risked reading the whole thing.  But because 90% of the audience was already opposed to the “healthcare” schemes Congress is brewing, I figured it would be more reasonable to present a truncated question.

And thus I began by stating my affiliation with the College Libertarians of Towson, which I’m happy to say received some moderate applause.

Following my affiliation statement, I began:  “Harry Browne often said, ‘Government is good at one thing:  It knows how to break your legs, hand you crutches, and say, “See, if it weren’t for the government, you wouldn’t be able to walk!”’”  This comment received both laughter and applause, so I waited until the applause ended before continuing.  “According to Dr. Mary Ruwart, best-selling author of Healing Our World in An Age of Aggression, we can cut the cost of healthcare by 80% by getting government out of healthcare.  Why is it—”  I had to stop speaking, for at this point I again received applause. I continued, “Why is it, then, that we are moving in the direction of bigger government rather than smaller government?”

After I finished my question, I headed to my seat and listened to Mr. Cardin’s reply.  He essentially said that he didn’t see the 80% figure as realistic.

Had I instead asked him my longer question, it would have listed ways in which healthcare really would become cheaper without government.  For one thing, if we have complete free trade with Canada (and all other countries), then we can freely purchase drugs from these other countries, and thus we can shop around for better deals than we might otherwise be able to get.  For another, without the government-created patent system which gives an unnatural monopoly to big business, then drug companies would have to compete on a truly free market, and they would not be able to charge customers exorbitant costs.  Without the evil FDA, which costs tens of thousand (if not hundreds of thousands) of lives every year, drug companies would not have to go through years and years of bureaucratic red tape, and could instead submit their drugs to private companies similiar to Underwriters Laboratories for testing.  But because drugs cannot be sold in the U.S. without FDA approval, and because it costs so much to get this government monopoly to approve any drug, the costs are passed along to the consumers who thus suffer.  We can also cut costs by alleviating doctors of their onerous government paperwork if we were to turn Medicare and Medicaid into private charities.  And if we were to eliminate government mandates on insurance companies, then insurance companies could tailor their plans to fit what customers want, instead of forcing us to conform to whatever it is that the politicians and bureaucrats think is best for us.

The elimination of government involvement in healthcare would have very liberating effects for consumers of healthcare.  But Cardin doesn’t see the savings as realistic.

At 7:59, I noticed that Mr. Cardin once again looked tiffed.  At no point did he cuss at his audience or stamp his foot, but he made it perfectly clear that he was in stark disagreement with the majority of his audience.

Someone, pointing out that Congress rarely reads the bills it signs, asked if Mr. Cardin would promise to read the bill prior to voting for it.  He promised he would, although I have to wonder how fully he aimed to keep this promise.  Would he read it verbatim himself, or would he get his aids to read it and then summarise it for him?

A person at 8:09 asked about interstate commerce in health insurance, asking why Congress hasn’t made it legal for consumers to shop around.

Another person, at 8:11, pointed out that there were ultimately not very many slides employed by Mr. Cardin, and then asked why it is therefore necessary to have 1,000-page bills.  This question definitely received applause, but the person was not done with questions.  “Can you name even one thing that the private sector was doing that the government took over and made more efficient?” this person asked, and received a standing ovation.  Mr. Cardin ignored the first half of the question and focused on the second half for his response.  I do not at this time recall his responses, but I do recall that he received laughs.

The gentleman who spoke at 8:26 said that if the Founders were there, they would be horrified, and would be looking for ways to get government out of healthcare, to which he received a standing ovation.  He continued by asking, “So why is it that instead, we’re handing over healthcare to a monopoly?: the government!”

The last person to speak pointed out that government rationing of healthcare seemed more similar to some sort of Hitlerian scheme than something we ought to champion as American.  Finally, the event ended at 8:30.

—Alexander S. Peak

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Yesterday’s Townhall Meeting With Ben Cardin: Part I

In Activism, Health, Immigration, Libertarian, Live-blogging, Media, Nanny State, Police State, Protest, US Government on August 11, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Yesterday, I attended Ben Cardin’s Townhall meeting at Towson University.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss healthcare in America.  Ben Cardin currently serves as one of Maryland’s U.S. senators.

I arrived at 4:11, even though the event was not sceduled to begin until 7:00 PM.  Nevertheless, there was already a line.

This line grew quickly, and by 5:30, the Towson University administration began turning people away.

When they finally let us into the auditorium, they inspected bags and purses to ensure an absence of weapons and food.  Walking through the auditorium door, we were each handed blue cards on which we would write down a question for Mr. Cardin along with our contact information.  Inside the auditorium, classical music played.

I sat toward the front.  At 6:57, a gentleman in the corner of the room holding a small camera was asked to be seated.  It was difficult to hear their conversation, but the man appeared to ask the administrator if it was okay for him to stand where he was for the simple purpose of recording the event and the audience, to which the administrator clearly told him it was not.  The man submitted to the administrator.

I commented to the woman sitting to the right of me, “That guy wasn’t harming anyone,” to which she responded, “Yeah, none of us [audience members] had a problem with him.”

About a minute later, Cardin and a few others walk out.  I had not been paying attention to the stage as I was reading my book, but the audience reaction told me all I needed to know, and so I closed the book.  An administrator in a green tie makes some brief opening remarks.  All three persons and on the stage in front of the audience, and two projection screens stand on either side of the three persons.  Behind the podium are three nice-looking chairs, and above the chairs is a banner—probably paid for with your tax dollars—that said, “Every American Deserves Healthcare.”

The administrator lists a bunch of people who were there that night, most of the names being unfamiliar to me.  I presume a number were state delegates.  Although our other senator, Ms. Barbara Mikulski, was not present, her name was mentioned for some reason—perhaps her aids were in the audience.  Although most of the names mentioned received applause, her name received boos from the audience.

I became immediately aware of how lively this audience was going to be.  Clapping and booing were both highly-valued means of communication throughout the night.

Following the administrator, a woman spoke. She explained the troubles her family is facing, and how difficult it’s been caring for her children, the youngest of whom has some serious ailments.  Needless to say, the entire audience—regardless of what its individual members thought about the healthcare crisis—felt sympathy for this woman, the husband of whom currently works two jobs to make ends meet in our turbulent economy.  She ended her brief presentation by saying that she did not know what the best solution to our nation’s problems is, but that she hoped that events such as this townhall meeting would help to flesh out some of the problems and their solutions.

I could not help, when listening to her presentation, but to think that many of the problems she faced were the fault of statist intervention into the healthcare system and into the economy as a whole.

The audience was, for the most part, respectful to this woman.  This audience did not hold the same respect for the man who spoke next—the politician.

Cardin began speaking at 7:09, and he faced many hecklers.  It was really a beautiful sight: people, refusing to place politicians on some godlike pedistal, but instead speaking their mind, challenging the establishmen man, and, in so doing, challenging the entire elitist system!

This isn’t to say I loved every utterance that this audience made.  I was extremely annoyed to hear some audience members whining, “What about the illegals!?”  Such narrow-minded rhetoric was, in my opinion, a detriment to the otherwise-glorious anti-government arguments and sentiments of the crowd.  I half-wanted to pull these anti-immigrationists off to the side and chastise them for their wrongheaded focus, but decided against it.

Cardin had various slides he wanted to show the audience, but the audience was getting wrestless.  “We want to ask you questions!”  “Let us ask questions!”  Still, Cardin continued.

One of his slides, unvailed at 7:18, showed the increasing cost of health insurance over the past ten years.  Looking at the slide, I couldn’t help but to suspect that it was not adjusted for inflation.  Rising costs of health insurance is certainly not a positive thing, of course, but no evidence was presented to indicate that the cause was anything other than the declining value of the dollar.  What is inflation?  Inflation is any increase in the money supply, and it causes the value of each unit of the money supply to drop.  Thus, when the government inflates the dollar by creating new money and credit out of thin air, the purchasing power of the average user of that currency falls.  The solution, therefore, to this problem is not new government mandates and higher taxes; the solution is to abolish the fraudulent institution responsible for inflation the money supply—in the case of America, that institution is the Federal Reserve.

Still facing heckles, Cardin becomes visibly became tiffed a couple minutes later.  He says to his audience at this time something to the effect of, “I know you don’t care about the facts, but…”  The audience responded, unsurprisingly, with further heckles.  Listening to the audience and our guest speaker, I couldn’t help but to feel like I was sitting in the British parliament.

At 7:22, cops walk from the back of the audience down to the front, and stand in the corners of the room.  I didn’t make precise count, but I estimate that about ten cops made this trek, presumably to intimidate speakers by showcasing the might of the state apparatus.  I do not believe anyone actually allowed themselves to be intimidated, but it was an interesting sight nevertheless.  Where has America gone?

At 7:25, in response to calls from the audience to begin the Q&A session, he pleads with the audience to just let him get through the last few slides.  The administrator in the green tie also kept insisting that the audience stay quiet while Cardin finishes his presentation—repeatedly, and to no avail.

Finally, Mr. Cardin finished his presentation at 3:33, and announces that he will now answer questions.  To this, the audience applauded.

—Alexander S. Peak

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Why Exactly is Madoff Going to Prison?

In Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Fraud, Law, People in the news, Taxation on July 3, 2009 at 3:01 pm

On June 29, 2009, Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison.  According to The New York Times, Madoff was guilty of running “the largest, longest and most widespread Ponzi scheme in history.”

It is true that Madoff ran a Ponzi scheme, but it is categorically false to call his the largest, the longest-running, or the most widespread.  But I digress.

The point is, I do not believe jail-time is the appropriate punishment for Mr. Madoff.

(1) If Madoff told his customers that he would be investing their money in a way he did not, then he committed fraud, and his punishment should be to pay back his customers in full plus extra for time preference.  If he has less money in his name than he owes to his victims, then he should (A) first pay what he has and (B) then have his future wages garnished to pay those to whom he still has debt.  (He should also pay back his poorest victims first, working his way up the ladder until he either pays off his entire debt in full or dies, whichever comes first.)

(2) If he did not lie to his customers about what he was doing with their money, then he committed no real crime, and should not be punished at all.

Either way, he should not go to jail.

As Mr. Jeffrey Tucker writes,

What, then, precisely, is the point of jailing him?  He is no direct threat to anyone.  Society would not be safer because he is in the slammer.  He is not going to rob people or beat people up.  He might write a book and donate the funds to charity or make some restitution to his victims.  I, for one, would like to read that book.

Instead, taxpayers will be forced to pick up the tab for his living expenses.  Victims get nothing.  That’s not justice.  That’s inhumane for both sides of the transaction: Bernie and us.

—Alexander S. Peak

Wal-Mart Embraces Fascism

In Corruption, Economics, Health, Media, Personal Responsibility, US Government on July 2, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Wal-Mart embraces fascism.

Is this claim too extreme?  Am I guilty of hyperbole?  In this case, I think not.

According to the 1 July 2009 edition of The Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart, the largest “private” employer in the United States, is backing a federal initiative that would require employers to provide health insurance to workers.1

There are many reasons to oppose such a requirement—especially if you are a member of the working class.  As John Stossel writes,

Why on earth would we want mandated insurance from employers?!  Do our employers pay for our food, clothing or shelter?  If they did, why would that be good?  Having my health care tied to my boss invites him to snoop into my private health issues, and if I change jobs I lose coverage.  Employer paid health insurance isn’t free.  It just means we get insurance instead of higher salaries.2

According to Ms. Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, “four in ten Americans change their job every year. ”3  This makes employment-based healthcare all the more problematic for workers.  Moreover, Mr. Neil Trautwein with the National Retail Federation has described the employer mandate as “the single most destructive thing you could do to the health-care system shy of a single-payer system.”4

But the undesirability of employment-based health coverage does not alone make Wal-Mart’s Tuesday announcement a support for fascism.  To understand more clearly why the move is in a fascistic direction, we must first know what fascism is.

Fascism is an ideology that holds the state to be the supreme organisation in and engine or society, outside of which all else and everyone else is unimportant.  Mr. Sheldon Richman defines its economic system as “socialism with a capitalist veneer,” one that seeks to control the means of production “indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners.  …[F]ascism [nationalized property] implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the ‘national interest’—that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it.  (Nevertheless, a few industries were operated by the state.)”5

Perhaps the best description of the fascist economic model comes from John T. Flynn, who described the system in detail in chapter ten of his 1944 classic As We Go Marching.  The first explicitly fascist state, Italy under Mussolini, established corporatives to direct economic activity and production.  Flynn defines fascist system as “(1) a capitalist type of economic organization, (2) in which the government accepts responsibility to make the economic system work at full energy, (3) using the device of state-created purchasing power effected by means of government borrowing and spending, and (4) which organizes the economic life of the people into industrial and professional groups to subject the system to control under the supervision of the state.”6

Does the federal state’s most recent initiative take us fully into fascism?  Probably not, but it is certainly a step in that direction.

So why, then, would a business want to see the central state usurp greater degrees of power?  The state offers to Big Business what it cannot achieve on the free market: the means to keep out competition.  As historian Gabriel Kolko wrote,

The dominant fact of American political life at the beginning of this century was that big business led the struggle for the federal regulation of the economy.

If economic rationalization could not be attained by mergers and voluntary economic methods, a growing number of important businessmen reasoned, perhaps political means might succeed.7

Kolko’s main thesis is that it was big business that spearheaded governmental regulation of business during the Progressive Era.  The same happens today, and can be exemplified in Wal-Mart’s recent decision.

The Wall Street Journal explains Wal-Mart’s motivation in benign-sounding terms:  “Wal-Mart—which provides insurance to employees”—“wants to level the playing field with companies that don’t.”8  This is a sugary way of saying that Wal-Mart wishes to use the aggressive controls of the state to force firms smaller than it to provide what they may or may not have the resources to provide.  Those firms that are unable to continue operating under the state’s new regulations will, of course, be forced to go out of business (unless they’re able to procure bailouts—this is also problematic), thus leaving less firms with whom Wal-Mart will need to compete.  This is bad not only for workers but also for consumers.

We shouldn’t really be surprised by Wal-Mart’s recent move.  As Mr. Lew Rockwell reported in 2005, Wal-Mart called for an increase to the minimum wage so as to impose a higher cost on smaller competitors.  As Rockwell wrote, “if Wal-Mart can successfully lobby the government to abolish lower-wage firms, it has taken a huge step toward running out its competition.”9

That Wal-Mart would again advocate statist interventions that it knows it can overcome but that its competitors will have more difficulty overcoming goes to show what little Wal-Mart has in way of business ethics.

Notes

1 Janet Adamy and Ann Zimmerman, “Wal-Mart Backs Drive to Make Companies Pay for Health Coverage,” The Wall Street Journal CCLIII, no. 152 (Wednesday, July 1, 2009): A1, A4.

2 John Stossel, “Health Insurance Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be: Mandating Medical Coverage May Sound Good, but You’ve Got to Read the Fine Print,” ABC News, October 16, 2006, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/PrescriptionForChange/story?id=2574980&page=1 (accessed July 1, 2009).

3 John Stossel, “Whose Body is it, Anyway?: Sick in America,” 20/20, September 14, 2007.

4 Adamy and Zimmerman, op. cit., A4.

5 Sheldon Richman, “Fascism,” The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Fascism.html (accessed July 1, 2009).

6 John T. Flynn, “What is Fascism?” in As We Go Marching (orig. 1944; New York, N.Y.: Free Life Editions, Inc., 1973), pp. 54–55.

7 Gabriel Kolko, The Triumph of Conservatism: A Reinterpretation of American History, 1900–1916, (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1963), pp. 57–58.  Butler Shaffer picks up where Kolko leaves off with Butler Shaffer, In Restraint of Trade: The Business Campaign Against Competition, 1918–1938, (orig. 1997; Cranbury, N.J.: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1999).

8 Adamy and Zimmerman, op. cit., A1.

9 Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., “Wal-Mart Warms to the State,” Mises Daily, December 28, 2005, http://mises.org/story/1950 (accessed July 1, 2009).

—Alexander S. Peak

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The Problem With The Economist

In Crazy Claims, Economics, Libertarian, literature, Media, Politics on June 12, 2009 at 5:43 pm

On page thirteen of the May 30th–June 5th edition of The Economist, an editorial aimed at describing the threat posed to our economy through excesses of central planning, the author writes the following paragraph:

Moreover, even the most stalwart defenders of the free market, including this newspaper, admit it has shortcomings that only the government can address.  The financial system requires close oversight, or crises will destabilise it (see page 75).  In recent years, such oversight has often been absent or fragmented.  Only government can enforce competition rules, insist that business and consumers limit carbon-dioxide emissions, or intervene to make health care available to those too sick or poor to afford it.  And the current crisis calls for aggressive and temporary fiscal and monetary intervention that is not justified in ordinary times.

The first sentence of this paragraph alone contains three grave problems.  Firstly, since when has the government been able to fix things?  Even liberals and conservatives readily admit that the government is at best inefficient and at worse downright detrimental.  Ask the average person if government is good at solving problems.  The person doesn’t have to be a libertarian to laugh at such a question.

Secondly, the most “stalwart defenders of the free market” do not make the sort of concessions that this magazine wishes to make.  I should know, being a stalwart defender of the free market myself.

Finally, The Economist calls itself a “stalwart defenders of the free market.”  But how can it be one, when it itself believes that government can “intervene to make health care available to those too sick or poor to afford it.”  The government does not possess some magic button that can make healthcare cheaper, and in fact every intervention the government makes into the healthcare field ultimately raises the costs (or decreases the quality) of healthcare.  And this hurts the poor more than anyone else!  No, The Economist is not a “stalwart defenders of the free market.”  If you want an example of a magazine that stalwartly defends the free market, I would recommend The Freeman.

I estimate that a point of confusion for some people arise when they hear a libertarian say, “The free market is not perfect.”  Even “stalwart defenders of the free market” admit that the free market is not perfect.  But what precisely does that mean?  Does it mean that the government is better, more effective, or more efficient than the market in some area(s)?  To jump to that conclusion is to misunderstand the libertarian who correctly says that the free market is imperfect.

When I say the free market is not perfect, what I mean by this is that the free market will not solve all of the world’s problems.  The free market does have an anti-discriminatory effect on businesses (i.e. businesses operating on a totally free market tend to ignore race, finding it more profitable to hire whatever employee is best for the job), but it will not likely have much of an impact on men’s hearts, for example.  This does not, however, mean that we should initiate some litany of statutory laws aimed at eliminating prejudice within men’s hearts, nor that the government would be more effective at eliminating prejudices than the market.

The market will also not fully eliminate addiction to alcohol, the making of bad investments, the promulgation of “improper” religious beliefs, et cætera.  Thus, the free market is not “perfect.”  But it’s still better than the government—at everything!  (Even archists like John Stossel have admitted to this last point.)  And this is because the state is a political institution, and thus lacks the same incentives that one would find in an economic institution.  (I am indebted to Franz Oppenheimer for the distinction between the political means and the economic means.)  Political institutions always inevitably allow politics to affect decision-making.  Whenever a politician grants something to, say, a corporation, you can be sure that the decision was affected by, if not based on, politics.  Beyond this, politicians lack any meaningful mechanism for evaluating the utility of their actions.  The market, on the contrary, has a pricing system that reflects consumer demand relative to supply, and it is this pricing system that allows market actors to make rational choices.

The market is not perfect because it is not, in short, a god.  Thus, there is no need to worship it, or to pretend it is anything other than it is.  But the fact that the market is not a god does not therefore imply that the state is a god, or that the state can even make up for the market’s imperfections.  The market, at least the truly free market, has no “market failures,” it just has natural limitations based on its nature.  It is, after all, merely a mechanism for most efficiently allocating resources in a world of scarcity; it is not a magic cure-all that can save humanity from, say, bad thoughts or addiction.  But then, neither is the state.  The same natural limitations we find in the market are found in politics, except that in politics they are ultimately far more detrimental to social harmony and human rights.  The market may not be a god, but that doesn’t mean the government is better than it—at anything.

—Alexander S. Peak

A House Majority for Federal Reserve Audit

In Austrian Economics, Corruption, Economics, Libertarian, Media, Personal Responsibility, Press Release, Ron Paul on June 11, 2009 at 8:56 pm

In a March 10th speech on the House floor, Ron Paul said, “I have introduced a bill, it’s called H.R. 1207, and this would remove the restriction on us to find out what the Federal Reserve is doing.  Today, the Federal Reserve under the law is not required to tell us anything.”

Earlier today, Paul’s Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009 (H.R. 1207) received its 218 cosponsors in the House of Representatives.  The significance of this number is that it represents a majority of House representatives.  The 218th co-sponsor, according to a press release released today by Dr. Paul’s congressional office says that the 218th co-sponsor was none other than Paul’s friend Dennis Kuchinich.

“The tremendous grass-roots and bipartisan support in Congress for H.R. 1207 is an indicator of how mainstream America is fed up with Fed secrecy,” said Congressman Paul.  “I look forward to this issue receiving greater public exposure.”

As do we all.  The Federal Reserve board was created in 1913 by an act of Congress to help big bankers do what they could not do on a free market: cartelise the banking industry.  The Fed today sets the interest rates instead of allowing the market to set the interest rates.  It also lowers the reserve ratio required for banks to 10%.  This means that banks are given the statist luxury of lending out up to 90% of the money you put into it.  The Fed uses these controls to encourage or discourage lending at its own discretion—a discretion that is always inevitably tainted by politics.  The Austrian school of economics holds that this manipulation of the money supply is the prime, if not the sole, cause of the business cycle.

Anti-Fed sentiments have been on the rise ever since the Fed-created housing bubble burst in 2008.  For more on this, see Dr. Thomas E. Woods’s excellent book Meltdown.  For a basic overview of the Fed itself, see the Ludwig von Mises Institute’s fantastic documentary 42-minute Money, Banking, and the Federal Reserve. (Don’t be scared by the title, the documentary really is fascinating!)

Right now, the number of co-sponsors on Paul’s bill is up to 222.  Hearings on Federal Reserve transparency are expected within the next month, “as part of the Financial Services Committee’s series of hearings on regulatory reform.”  This is the same committee chaired by the notorious Barney Frank.  Despite some clear flaws on his part regarding Fanny and Freddie, he has been a critic of the Federal Reserve system.

An identical bill, titled the Federal Reserve Sunshine Act of 2009 (S. 604), was introduced on March 16th in the Senate by the independent from Vermont, Bernard Sanders.  Thus far, the Senate version has no co-sponsors.

—Alexander S. Peak

Anarchy is Coming to America

In Art, Entertainment, Libertarian, Media, Personal Responsibility, Police State, US Government on May 23, 2009 at 1:52 pm

With massive government debasing of the fiat U.S. Dollar, with mounting decades of hypermilitarism, with the destabilising effects of ever more central planning, could the statist American Empire collapse within the next four years?  And if it does, how will citizens cope?

These are the questions aimed to be addressed by a daring new web series, Anarchy in America.

Written and produced by Sky Conway, President of Renegade Studios, Anarchy in America takes place in 2013, in a bankrupt America where “food riots erupt and mobs loot stores.”  While preachers on street corners claim this is “Armageddon,” the president addresses the nation on live TV.  He declares Martial Law.

I first learned of this project from Laissez-Faire!, a new magazine/catalogue being released by Laissez-Faire Books (which was recently acquired by the International Society for Individual Liberty).  In this magazine, Ms. Joyce Brand writes,

In a small coastal community in California, a band of colorful residents rally together to solve social problems from looting to feeding the elderly.  This is not utopia but flawed characters struggling to make their community work, battling each other and the remnants of government while building voluntary institutions for currency, charity, protection, and more.  But even as freedom takes root, the government returns.  State agents with guns demand taxes and obedience.  And, then, a tank rolls down the center of Main Street; the federal government has reconstituted (p. 9).

Professor Randy Barnett, author of The Structure of Liberty, is one of the consultants on Anarchy in America.

This show will be released as a series of webisodes at anarchy.tv, each approximating seven minutes in length.  Each set of twelve episodes will be “structured like a three-act feature film.  …  This allows us to consolidate each set of webisodes into movie-length DVDs,” writes the producer, “with extras, to market to a wide audience.”

Production will not begin until enough money has been raised to fund the first three episodes, but once things are under way, “Laissez Faire Books will publish the novelization of the series, and we expect to have graphic books as well.  We will have merchandise to sell, such as tee shirts, posters, baseball caps, mugs, etc.  There will be 15 second commercial spots available in front of each episode.  The DVD sales will bring in more revenue as the series continues, and there is the potential for a cable TV deal.”

All in all, I’m quite excited about the prospect of watching this show.

—Alexander S. Peak

57% of American’s want to attack N. Korea?

In Libertarian, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, War on April 9, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I have to wonder what has a hold of the American people. According to a recent poll 57% of Americans favor a military strike in response to N. Korea’s recent missile test. Most people don’t even know where N. Korea is on the map. The same group of people wouldn’t know why South Korea is our ally instead of North Korea. Most American’s don’t know that the end of the Korean war has not yet been declared. Furthermore, most American’s don’t know that South Korea has called to normalize ties with N. Korea in the past which the US president down played.

With these things in mind it’s a weird phenomenon that 57% of the American’s that participated in the poll would vote to murder Koreans to respond to a situation that they vastly don’t understand. Normally when people make an important decision like choosing a college, house , or car they will do weeks of research to make the right choice. Yet people are willing to sanction murder and willingly convert their tax dollars to murder without understanding the situation. Maybe I’m a weird guy but I think that human life is far more important than a car, house, college, oil, diamonds, or gold. With this in mind I think that people should do more research before they lend their support to mass murder of people they don’t even know.

Propaganda is not something that died in the days of the Soviet Union. I’m sure that you have have heard of the term “human relations”. This term was created by Sigman Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays. He understood that the term “propaganda” had a stigma associated with it. He created the term “human relations” to be a more acceptable term for propaganda. Subsequently we’ve seen numerous corporate human relations departments spring up to control the public image of corporations. Do any of the items below look familiar? They are all methods of propaganda.

This argument approach uses tireless repetition of an idea. An idea, especially a simple slogan, that is repeated enough times, may begin to be taken as the truth. This approach works best when media sources are limited and controlled by the propagator.
Appeals to authority cite prominent figures to support a position, idea, argument, or course of action.
Appeals to fear seek to build support by instilling anxieties and panic in the general population, for example, Joseph Goebbels exploited Theodore Kaufman’s Germany Must Perish! to claim that the Allies sought the extermination of the German people.
Using loaded or emotive terms to attach value or moral goodness to believing the proposition.
Bandwagon and “inevitable-victory” appeals attempt to persuade the target audience to join in and take the course of action that “everyone else is taking.”

  • Inevitable victory: invites those not already on the bandwagon to join those already on the road to certain victory. Those already or at least partially on the bandwagon are reassured that staying aboard is their best course of action.
  • Join the crowd: This technique reinforces people’s natural desire to be on the winning side. This technique is used to convince the audience that a program is an expression of an irresistible mass movement and that it is in their best interest to join.
  • Beautiful people
The type of propaganda that deals with famous people or depicts attractive, happy people. This makes other people think that if they buy a product or follow a certain ideology, they too will be happy or successful. (This is more used in advertising for products, instead of political reasons)
The repeated articulation of a complex of events that justify subsequent action. The descriptions of these events have elements of truth, and the “big lie” generalizations merge and eventually supplant the public’s accurate perception of the underlying events. After World War I the German Stab in the back explanation of the cause of their defeat became a justification for Nazi re-militarization and revanchist aggression.

Retrieved from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda

What does this have to do with N. Korea? I wanted to remind you that there are active systems in place in America that skew the mass’s reality. People don’t just miraculously think that Iran is bad, Iraq had WMD’s, Saddam helped Bin Laden, Amerika is a free country, or Hugo Chavez is an enemy of America. Indeed, there are mechanisms in place to instill and reinforce these idea’s in a person’s mind. The result of such mechanisms are people who feel confident when they say “we should go and kill other people in a foreign country for testing their missile launching capabilities”.

The way to uncover who the people are who’ve been manipulated is to scratch a little deeper in their logic. When you hear people say that “we should go kill some group of people in the world for whatever reason”, ask them “Why?”. If they recite what they heard on television then scratch a little deeper. I was talking to a coworker recently. She told me that if N. Korea gets 1 nuclear bomb then it might end up killing us. I asked her “How can one crude nuke compare to the few 100,000 nukes that America and Russia and Isreal have?”. We could shot down N. Korea’s nuke and still have enough ammo left to destroy the world a few 100 times over.

So you’re probably wondering what’s my point? The point is to remind you to be a critical thinker. When you look at the news be sure to engage your “B.S.” filter. Look for imperical data not the opinions of the reporter. When you see news shows that are full of opinions and not facts then that should set off a red flag in your mind. Sadly most modern news networks try to tell you what to think instead of presenting stories and leaving the judgement to you. As far as N. Korea and it’s missile tests go you might want to research N. Korea and the term “nuclear deterrence”.

Don’t be a puppet.

Peace…

Too Dangerous for Canada!

In Big Brother, Censorship, First Amendment, People in the news on April 1, 2009 at 9:06 pm

It appears that the UK’s maverick anti-war MP George Galloway is too dangerous for Canada. Now if the ban were on the basis of Galloway’s appearance on Big Brother, I’d back the Canucks. The right to defend oneself against crappy reality TV is inalienable. But the stated reason is that Galloway is accused of giving money to the Palestinian radical group Hamas, which is banned in Canada and bombed in Gaza.

I can’t help but think that this ban is perhaps more motivated by Galloway’s outspoken views on the US invasion of Iraq, sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Whatever you think of Galloway, he seems to be in, well… company when it comes to being banned, censored, and punished for unorthodox views. Geert Wilders, the Dutch MP who has built a career on baiting radical Muslims, was banned from the UK where he was scheduled to show his film Fitna to the House of Lords. The UK Home Office said, “The government opposes extremism in all forms.” This may have been in reference to Wilders’ call to ban the Koran. The Lords had to make do with a double-bill of Django the Bastard and A Fistful of Dynamite.

Wilders and Galloway are just Euro-MPs, that’s practically banana-republic territory compared to the lofty eminence of the Imperial Presidency. But even here there is censorship. While President Obama will hardly be turned away from Beijing, the same can’t be said for his inauguration speech. China cut the part where Obama boasted of how the USA whupped Commie butt.

If you are a lowly professor like David Irving, countries that don’t like your speech might just decide they WANT you to stay. In Austria it is illegal to show such gross insensitivity to Jewish feelings as to deny or downplay the Holocaust. Not that there are many Jews left in Austria since they all got murdered without much of any Austrians lifting a finger back when it counted.  In 2006 David Irving got sentenced to three years in the Austrian calaboose for the crime of Holocaust Denial. For similar, but perhaps more effective activities, Kurt Waldheim got six years in the grim Hofburg Palace.

Well, I’m not even going to start on cartoons or magical-realist writers. Down at this level, you don’t ask no questions, you just run for your life!

Now some may argue that Galloway, Wilders, Obama, and Irving are all to one degree or another, opponents of free speech in others, supporters of state violence, or reality TV contestants. In short, they are united in being jerks. I won’t even argue the point. Rather I take my stand with Voltaire, I disagree with the jerk stuff you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it!

–Dave Hardy

A Short on the Sundwall Campaign

In Activism, Candidate Endorsement, Congress, Economics, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Politics on March 28, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Yesterday a friend sent me a link from the LP site about the challenge brought against Sundwall’s campaign.  She, like me, missed this news in the flood of news that seems to come through everyday.  Also, it was on the LP site, does anyone even go there anymore?  My immediate thoughts were, “I wonder who brought that challenge forward?  I wonder if any past candidates there have been removed for technicalities before?  I wonder if any of the past elected candidates were elected with technical problems?

When I’m in Dutchess County, NY sometimes I’ll I listen to WHUD. I hear them mentioning the names of the candidates to fill Gillibrand’s seat I get excited hearing them mention Eric’s.  It makes me smile.  I knew he was probably going to fight this, but I didn’t really see it being successful.  Talking Points Memo asks, “Qui Bono?” and they fill us in on details of who brought the complaint:

The complaint was brought by two voters who were registered with New York’s Republican and Conservative parties.* As such, some Democrats believe this was really engineered by the GOP side. As one Dem source told us: “The only reason the Republicans fought to keep Eric Sundwall off the ballot is because they knew he was stealing from their flawed candidate’s fading support.”

Thinking on it some more, the Eric Sundwall election brings up for me the same problems that the Ron Paul election did.  Perhaps even more.  Leaving aside issues of justice and ethics for the most part (as libertarians will argue over the problems of non-aggression and politics), I’m thinking about it in terms of economics.  Frequently, it would be asked by libertarian supporters of Ron Paul when they spoke among themselves, “just what could Paul do in office?”  We knew when thinking in context that he’d have to fight against political reality even if he became POTUS, a reality that had been shaped by powerful forces with mutual interest in maintaining their power.  From the state governments to the federal government, from the house to the senate, from big business to big education, from wealthy individuals to the labor unions, interlocking power had reasons to fight a Paul presidency and support one another while they individually had a go against the White House.  Still, Paul had the veto pen, the power of pardon, the power to appoint justices to the SCOTUS, nearly unilateral control over executive branch policy.  The hopeful assumed that those abilities might be enough to permanently change the US from an empire to a “normal” country if not a republic as imagined by 18th century liberals.

On the other hand Eric in NY would be a lot like Paul in the house, a lone voice crying into a near void, a Cassandra among rubes.  He would be running for congress, and not president.  Knowing this, would it have been worth it to support the Sundwall campaign?  It might give me a kick to know that someone I pretty much totally agree with was in office somewhere near me, but unless we had something like virtual cantons I don’t see it doing me much good.  The economic problem brought up by anti-political libertarians with regards to electoral politics is this.  Economics is about the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses.  We use the word “trade-off” to describe the choice of one use of scarce resources over others.  One of our scarce resources is time.  Our ultimate goal, as we all ostensibly agree, is a free society.  Is it a better use of our scarce resources to support and get elected candidates who will participate in the political process of majoritarianism and logrolling, or are there other alternatives that will help us achieve our goals?  Perhaps the time, money, energy, and will, used in supporting candidates can be put toward actually making a free society rather than hoping that our one candidates will prevail.  Agorists, at least, propose exactly this.

I have nothing against Eric Sundwall, in fact I wish him all the best.  If he had won I would’ve been glad.  This goes for all other libertarians that are going the political route.  It looks like Eric got too close to becoming a swing vote and had to be knocked out.  If he cannot receive the majority of the votes that would’ve gone to him then it seems like a wasted effort.  I ask other libertarians out there, about the larger point: Is the very idea of state politics a folly?  Should we continue these indirect efforts for liberation, or should we engage in direct action?  I have my answer, but I’m willing to listen to an argument for other points of view.

Update: Eric has released a statement of his intent to end his candidacy.  He fingers the Tedisco campaign for playing dirty politics.  I’m inclined to agree.  This merely highlights one of the main problems of putting hopes into electoral solutions for liberty. The powers that be want to remain the powers, and playing their games or following their rules simply seems like a fool’s game to me.

John Stossel Takes On the Bailouts

In Drug War, Economics, Immigration, Media, Medical Marijuana, Spending, Taxation, US Government on March 17, 2009 at 8:56 pm

This past Friday, 20/20 had a special report titled “Bailouts and Bull,” explaining why stimuli and bailouts will do nothing to jump-start the economy.

More than 300 economists earlier this year signed a petition declaring their view that “more government spending is [not] a way to improve economic performance” and that “[t]o improve the economy, policymakers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, savings, investment and production.  Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth.”

Eighteen of these economists were interviewed for Stossel’s special report.  Among those interviewed are two of my own professors, Dr. Howard Baetjer (back row, second from the viewers’ left) and Dr. Joe Pomykala (front row, on the viewers’ right), both of whom were lucky enough to get face-time.

I spoke to Prof. Baetjer this past Wednesday.  He explained that Stossel interviewed the eighteen economists both as a group and on a one-on-one basis.  Baetjer said he enjoyed the experience, and would love to do further televised interviews in the future.  In my own experience, I find Baetjer to be a very upbeat guy who is quite gifted at explaining economic concepts.

In watching the special, one can see that not everyone was lucky enough to have her or his interview used.  Baetjer, for example, said that when Walter Williams was interviewed, Williams allegedly said, “I don’t even know why we’re discussing the economics.  These bills are unconstitutional!”

For those that missed the 20/20 special, the Mises Economics Blog has made the entire episode available.

In addition to explaining that bailouts and “stimuli” are not the solution, the special report also (A) explains why privatising roads is an effective means of alleviating road congestion, (B) details how the federal government is oppressing medical marijuana retailers even in states that have legalised the medicine, (C) shows that universal pre-K is not a desirable government programme, (D) explains why building a fence between México and these United States is a huge waste of money, and (E) posits how a destitute person with no college degree can gain wealth in America.

—Alexander S. Peak

Cops Gone Wild: Brutal attack on teen girl not uncommon police behavior

In Constitutional Rights, Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Human Rights Abuses, Law, People in the news, Police Brutality, Police State, Protest on March 13, 2009 at 6:15 pm

By now, unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve seen the video of the 15-year-old girl who was violently attacked by a Seattle (Kings County) cop while being booked, because she kicked her shoe off at him and called him a name.

For said cave dwellers, here’s the video in question from a news report.

The teen had been arrested when she and some friends were seen driving erratically; the car belonged to a friend’s mother, and had been taken without permission.  The girls were arrested and charged with stealing the car.

Bear in mind, I do not condone that behavior by any stretch of the imagination.  No one ever has the right to take someone else’s property without permission, and they were also a serious danger to everyone else on the road since their erratic driving along with their age suggests they had no training or experience driving a motor vehicle.  I therefore have absolutely no problem with the girls being arrested.

I do, however, have a very, very serious problem with cops violently attacking suspects in this manner.

In a nutshell, the 15-year-old girl (Malika Calhoun, who has since given media interviews so her name is in the public record) angered officer Paul Schene, age 31, by calling him a “fat pig” and kicking her shoe off at him (though the shoe was not kicked hard, so it could not have harmed anyone), and Schene reacted with a shocking level of violence.  As you can see in the video, Schene ran into the room in full attack mode, slammed her head against the wall, threw her to the floor, punched her in the head several times, then picked her up by her hair (don’t get me started on what the hair-pulling says about this cop’s psychological problems).  She complained of having trouble breathing after the attack, which I do not doubt.  If nothing else, she may have had a panic attack following the shockingly violent attack against her.

Should she have called him a “fat pig” and kicked her shoe off at him?  Obviously not, and it’s pretty clear that she is a troubled teen based on her being involved in auto theft.  At the same time, that kind of behavior in teens is not unusual, as many parents find out the hard way, and many teens engage in that kind of behavior but grow up to be perfectly respectable, law-abiding adults; in fact, that’s why the criminal records of minors are sealed, since they lack the maturity of adults and do many times make extremely poor choices.  Either way, her disrespectful actions toward Schene do not explain Schene’s reaction, and in fact his reaction says far more about him than her behavior says about her, given her age.  I therefore can’t say her portrayal of him as a “fat pig” was necessarily incorrect.  Why should anyone respect the authority of a cop like Schene, who acts like a violent criminal himself?

Even in light of the video evidence against him, Schene has only been placed on paid leave pending the investigation.  Yet it is very clear that he engaged in brutality, since even his defense – that she called him names and kicked her shoe off at him – does not in any way explain, much less excuse, his violent actions.  So why are taxpayers being forced to fund what amounts to a paid vacation for him?  Clearly he is a danger to the public, and thus should have been fired as soon as his actions came to light.  Steps must be taken to protect the public from Schene.  Pure and simple, this is a man who should never have been given a badge.  Paul Schene didn’t just snap and attack a suspect this one time, that much I can guarantee.  He merely got away with it until now, because he’s a cop.

While the various television talking heads are quick to point out that this is an unusual situation, they’re both completely right and horribly, terribly wrong.  This kind of violence toward suspects actually happens all the time, but is almost impossible to prove since the average person tends to believe cops over the people they arrested, so the public doesn’t hear about it.   The only thing truly unusual about this situation – not unlike the infamous Rodney King beating by the LAPD – is that the attack was caught on videotape.  In this case, the prosecutor who was assigned to examine the criminal complaint (filed by the cop against the girl, not vice versa) pulled the surveillance tape to see what happened.  Had Schene not charged the girl for kicking her shoe at him, the public would never have even known about this shocking instance of police brutality.  The truth is, few if any people would believe a 15-year-old girl over a cop, even if she went public with the allegation.  Schene was counting on that, too.  The fact that he knew there was a surveillance camera there, but still filed the assault charges against her, suggests that he was counting on the prosecutor looking the other way as well.

The other cop in the room, a trainee, never reported the incident even though he had an absolute duty to do so since a violent crime was committed in his presence.  Is this trainee really so stupid that he doesn’t recognize assault when it’s right in front of him?  Does that trainee believe that cops are allowed to brutalize suspects?  Was he afraid of getting into trouble for being there?  Or did the trainee not report it because he feared for his career, and possibly even his life since in the field he has to depend upon other cops to cover his back?

The trainee cop has not been disciplined, and has not been charged.  However, he should have been fired immediately for failing to report the assault.  It’s easy to fire a trainee, since they can be relieved of duty for any reason, or no reason at all.  Chances are he was not fired because he cooperated with the investigation into Schene’s actions, but that still does not excuse his actions (or lack thereof) insofar as his employment is concerned.  At most he should be granted immunity from prosecution, since he does not appear to have assaulted the girl himself (but could still be charged with conspiracy); however, he still should lose his job for not reporting Schene’s assault.

Schene, on the other hand, would be harder to fire because he almost certainly has the Fraternal Order of Police backing him up.  While the FOP is extremely powerful when it comes to defending cops who have been fired, it would also be extremely hard for them to successfully argue that Schene should not be fired in light of the video and his pathetic excuses for his actions.  Yes, it would cost the department quite a bit of money to defend against a union challenge, but that’s their mistake and they now need to correct it.  They obviously didn’t screen either cop very well, or else they would not be in this predicament at all.  They need to fire the trainee, fire Schene, fight any FOP challenge to the decision, and learn from it by more carefully screening their officers.  Either way, take the badge and gun away from this uniformed thug before he kills someone else.

Yes, you read that right.  Schene has been a cop for only eight years, but has already been investigated for two police-related shootings, one of which resulted in death.  He was cleared both times, which is also not at all surprising.  Cops are rarely found at fault in shootings, even when they acted improperly, because the cop’s claimed perceptions are given greater weight than the actual reality of the situation.  Schene’s shootings should be reinvestigated by an independent panel outside the law enforcement community and outside the area, given his actions in this case which clearly show that he has extremely serious impulse control problems which render him dangerous to others, as well as the failure of everyone within the department to report his assault upon the girl – though obviously numerous people knew, including the trainee and the medics – which suggests there may have been a coverup in the investigation of the shootings as well. 

This brings me to another issue, with regard to the complaint made against this girl which resulted in the discovery of this surveillance video.  Simply stated, charges of obstruction of justice and assault on a police officer are rarely legitimate charges.  More likely than not, they are used to pad other charges.  Sometimes, as in this case, a charge of assault upon a police officer is filed only to cover up violent behavior by the cops.  Those kinds of charges are also used as a trump card by the prosecution, to make defendants think they’re getting a deal by having some charges dropped in exchange for a guilty plea on other charges, when in reality there is rarely any evidence to back up the dropped charges beyond than the cop’s word.  That the girl would be charged with assault upon a police officer at all, given what is shown in that video, is disturbing at best.

What I find most disturbing of all, however, is the number of people who are defending Schene for committing a violent crime against a minor.  The internet is overrun by those making excuses for him, from “maybe he had a bad day” to “the girl had it coming because she stole a car”.   I hate to tell them this, but “having a bad day” is not an excuse for attacking anyone, or else it would be an affirmative defense for everyone accused of assault, murder, and other violent crimes; and there is no law in this country which states that the punishment for being accused of car theft is a violent beating by someone much larger than you, and trained to attack others. 

Those who claim to be law-and-order types are strangely the first ones to suggest that violent crime is acceptable, as long as it’s committed by a cop.  Those with the same mindset defended the animals-with-badges on the LAPD who nearly beat Rodney King to death (they claimed he was resisting arrest, though the video shows otherwise), and the NYPD cops who shot Amadou Diallo a shocking 41 times (they claimed they thought his wallet, taken out to show ID as he did not speak English well, was a gun), so making excuses for completely out-of-control cops is not a new phenomenon, but it never fails to be an extremely disturbing reflection upon our society.

At any rate, the US Department of Justice is now investigating Schene’s actions in brutalizing the teenager.  While normally I don’t approve of the feds intervening in local affairs, it is the best thing which could happen in this case since local authorities (and local juries) rarely take appropriate action in cases of police brutality, even when there is clear and convincing evidence and high public/media interest.  Even in this case, in which Schene was criminally charged, he was only charged with misdemeanor fourth-degree assault.  Chances are he will get probation at most if convicted of that charge, and based upon the long history of cops being acquitted for even more heinous acts against the citizenry, it is not even sure that he will be convicted despite the video evidence.  However, if convicted in federal court, he will likely be sentenced to federal prison, and caged like the animal he has proven himself to be.

LPNY Chair Eric Sundwall to appear on “Break The Matrix”

In Activism, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Politics, Press Release, War on December 18, 2008 at 6:25 pm

From http://www.breakthematrix.com/node/31103:

Join us tomorrow for a Splitscreen show on Wake Up America Show channel 1

9am eastern Join us for an interview with Eric Sundwall http://ericsundwall.com/ to discuss the Libertarian Party, its principles and the direction of the party.

http://www.breakthematrix.com/content/Eric-Sundwall-NY-Libertarian-Party…

10am eastern Join the BTM Book Club as we feature Thomas Woods and Murray Polner a Transpartisan team who have written a great new book “WE WHO DARE TO SAY NO TO WAR”

http://www.breakthematrix.com/content/Thomas-Woods-Murray-Polner-Book-of…

These interviews will be conducted on the splitscreen so don’t miss it and we will see you in the chat room

Be a Leader in Liberty!

Kurt Wallace