Archives for February 2012

George Will urges GOP to get serious on defense spending

George Will, easily the best conservative writer out there, penned a great colum at the Washington Post explaining why Republicans need to whining about proposed reductions in defense spending and withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan:

The U.S. defense budget is about 43 percent of the world’s total military spending — more than the combined defense spending of the next 17 nations, many of which are U.S. allies. Are Republicans really going to warn voters that America will be imperiled if the defense budget is cut 8 percent from projections over the next decade? In 2017, defense spending would still be more than that of the next 10 countries combined.

Do Republicans think it is premature to withdraw as many as 7,000 troops from Europe two decades after the Soviet Union’s death? About 73,000 will remain, most of them in prosperous, pacific, largely unarmed and utterly unthreatened Germany. Why do so many remain?

Missing the point on the contraception mandate

Over the past few weeks there has been much discussion of the Obama Administration’s decision to mandate that even organizations associated with the Catholic Church cover contraception.  This has raised the ire of many on the right, who view this mandate as an assault on religious freedom.  Since the Catholic Church does not believe in using contraception, they argue, forcing them to cover it means they must violate their consciences.  Leaving aside the details, one thing is clear to me - the critics of the mandate are almost without exception missing the larger point.

The contraception mandate is awful, for sure, but not because it is an “assault on religion.” It is wrong because the government has no business telling ANYONE what they must cover.  The mandate would be wrong whether it was inflicted on a Catholic group, or a secular one.  And to be honest, I don’t think that religion is even a major factor in the decision to establish the mandate.  It is born out of a belief that there is some imaginary “right” to free health care, including contraception.  That is the true abomination.

Furthermore, why is there outrage only now?  Is it somehow okay to force non-Catholics to pay for other’s health care?  I understand this involves an issue of great moral importance to Catholics.  But is a federal mandate more wrong because it goes against a religious teaching?  I say this because many, including myself, do not subscribe to a religion, or belong to one without much political clout.  It is disturbing that somehow my liberty is not worth as much because I am in a minority and I don’t have groups lobbying on my behalf.

Obama backs down on contraception rule

The White House announced today that there will be an exemption on the controversial contraceptive rule for religious organizations:

With the White House under fire for its new rule requiring employers including religious organizations to offer health insurance that fully covers birth control coverage, at 12:15 p.m. ET, President Obama will announce an attempt to accommodate these religious groups.

The move, based on state models, will almost certainly not satisfy bishops and other religious leaders since it will preserve the goal of women employees having their birth control fully covered by health insurance.

Sources say it will be respectful of religious beliefs but will not back off from that goal, which many religious leaders oppose since birth control is in violation of their religious beliefs.

One source familiar with the decision described the accommodation as “Hawaii-plus,” insisting that it’s better than the Hawaii plan — for both sides.

Anarcho-capitalism Revisited

To piggyback off of some of the thoughts going around about anarchism, I think that anarcho-capitalism is completely unworkable in modern society. I have three main reasons why this is so, and then two ways that society and humans would have to change in order to make anarchism and anarcho-capitalism in particular actually viable.

I think this is an extremely important topic for the libertarian movement to consider, because now, more than ever, we’re in a position where fatigue and frustration with the current political system can give us a major opening. People are sick of the left, and they’re sick of the right. They recognize that socialism is not a workable solution, but neither is the current miasma that is crony capitalism. They’re afraid more of big government than big business, but like neither, and just want honesty, integrity, and equality before the law to actually prevail.

All of these are libertarian themes, and we can have tremendous success, but not if we put forward a face that looks completely radical and unreasonable. People aren’t looking for that, aren’t going to buy that, and are likely going to be turned off by it. It’s all about the Overton Window. I may not want to be as vehement or vicious as others do towards anarchists, but I do think we need to challenge their assumptions (and have our assumptions challenged) and point out where they fall on their face

So, why do I think anarcho-capitalism is, in any case, not workable for the modern world, and does not increase liberty?

1. Anarcho-capitalism relies on everyone being perfectly rational

Fox Business cancels “Freedom Watch”

We received bad news yesterday as the Fox Business Channel canceled Freedom Watch, the show hosted by Judge Andrew Napolitano that focuses features libertarian commentary on the news and issues of the day:

FOX Business Network (FBN) will debut a new primetime schedule featuring encore presentations of the channel’s top post-market programs, announced Kevin Magee, Executive Vice President of the network. Starting February 20th at 8 PM/ET, viewers will find additional airings of The Willis Report (5PM & 8PM/ET), Cavuto (6PM & 9PM/ET) and Lou Dobbs Tonight (7PM & 10PM/ET). The new lineup will replace FreedomWatch with Judge Andrew Napolitano, Power & Money with David Asman and Follow the Money with Eric Bolling.
[…]
We look forward to Judge Napolitano, David and Eric continuing to make significant contributions to both FOX Business and FOX News. In addition to daily branded segments, each of them will be showcased throughout future programming on both networks.”

A Santorum nomination could be a good thing for libertarians?

A couple of days ago, Nate Nelson laid out a very articulate case against Rick Santorum, who has received a surge in support in recent days. Among the marks against Santorum that Nate laid out were his support for No Child Left Behind, expanding Medicare, and big government social conservative policies.

However, John Samples, Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Representative Government, lays out a tongue-and-cheek libertarian case for Santorum’s nomination; based on the notion that his unpopular social conservatism would lead to President Barack Obama’s re-election:

Here’s my libertarian case for Rick Santorum’s nomination (though not his election). Since the early 1990s, Christian conservatives have formed an ever larger portion of the GOP. In Santorum, they would have what they have long sought: a candidate embodying their commitments to a politics of faith. Neoconservatives would also have a candidate committed to transforming the world through foreign policy and military action. The Obama-Santorum race would be more than just a struggle for power between two men. It would be a referendum on ideas and policies that have dominated the GOP for more than decade.

Accessibility of Sin

A couple of weeks ago, the good folks at Reason hit on an issue near and dear to my heart, and that is the subject of prostitution.  No, I’m not a prostitute or anything, it’s just that it’s a form of prohibition that I feel is overlooked far to much by libertarians.

The article in question actually focused on Backpage.com, a website owned by Village Voice Media.  Backpage is, in essence, Craigslist.  It has listings based on your location for a variety of things ranging from apartments for rent to cars for sale.  Something that Backpage has that Craigslist theoretically doesn’t is an “erotic services” category.  Some folks argue that Backpage needs to shut theirs down.  From Reason:

In a New York Times column that begins with the horrifying story of “Baby Face,” a 13-year-old runaway forced into prostitution by a pimp who advertised her on Backpage.com, Nicholas Kristof assails Village Voice Media, which owns the classified ad site, for profiting from such crimes. He quotes Brooklyn prosecutor Lauren Hersh, who says “Backpage is a great vehicle for pimps trying to sell girls,” and sums up the situation this way: “When Baby Face ran away from her pimp and desperately knocked on that apartment door in Brooklyn, she was also in effect pounding on the door of the executive suites of Backpage and Village Voice Media. Those executives should listen to her pleas.”

Voters aren’t sold on Gingrich’s moon colony

While Newt Gingrich has high aspirations to start an American colony on the moon (or something), a recent poll from The Hill shows that voters are, well, not as far out there as the former Speaker:

Newt Gingrich’s proposal for a lunar colony still has a long way to go before it meets with voters’ approval.

The Hill Poll found that just 1 in 5 likely voters support the idea of a permanent American base on the moon. By contrast, 64 percent are opposed to the idea.

Gingrich said on Jan. 25 that there would be a permanent U.S. base on the moon by the end of his second term, if he were elected president.

He has defended the idea since then, arguing that the United States should pursue bold projects. He has implied a parallel between his belief in this realm and the actions of past presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, who advocated, respectively, for a transcontinental railroad and a manned mission to the moon.

For someone that gained so much support from conservative and Tea Party-minded voters, Gingrich is sure willing to spend a lot of money to see his odd and, frankly, aburd proposal come to fruition. But Gingrich’s high hopes for a moon colony has given the cast from Saturday Night Live some fodder:

PETA: Sea World engages in slavery

So…do critters have the exact same rights as people?  Well, those wonderful morons folks at PETA seem to think so.  Taking a break from crusading to change the name of fish to “sea kitten” in an effort to keep people from eating them, they decided to take on Sea World in a court of law:

A California federal court is to decide for the first time in US history whether amusement park animals are protected by the same constitutional rights as humans.

The issue arises from a lawsuit filed by rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of (PETA) in a San Diego court on behalf of five named Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka and Ulises.

The whales perform water acrobatics at the SeaWorld amusement parks in San Diego and in Orlando, Florida.

PETA argues that continuing the whales’ “employment” at SeaWorld violates the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, which prohibits slavery.

District Judge Jeffrey Miller heard arguments in the complaint Monday and reviewed the response from SeaWorld, which asked that the lawsuit be dismissed. His ruling is expected to come later.

The suit, filed in October 2011, asked that the court declare that the orcas are “held in slavery and/or involuntary servitude by defendants in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

“It’s a new frontier in civil rights,” said Jeff Kerr, PETA general counsel, who described the hearing as a “historic day.”

CPAC Day 1: The Santorum Flyer

So I have officially arrived at my second Conservative Political Action Conference. I’ve received my blogger’s badge, been denied access to the Blogger’s Lounge (because it isn’t run by the ACU, CPAC’s parent organization), and was given my first piece of literature, a voting guide for Rick Santorum

Yeah, it’s been that kind of day.

The headline on the flyer says, and I quote: “Rick Santorum: The Most Electable Republican Candidate.” At this, my eyes rolled around in my skull. It goes on further to say that “Santorum is the only candidate in many recent polls currently predicted to win head to head against President Obama.” It highlights that he won twice in Pennsylvania, where there are more Democrats than Republicans (but curiously leaves out his 2006 electoral defeat.) It futher states that there is no difference between Obama, Romney, and Gingrich—something I actually agree with—but then says Santorum opposed the individual health care mandate.

Yeah…no, that’s not actually true.

The best line is the last one: “the only candidate to be elected to previous office against an incumbent Democrat and now he is poised to do it against an incumbent President.”


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