Archives for April 2012
I attended the Human Achievement Hour at the Competitive Enterprise Institute over the weekend, a several hour party and networking event. Designed to be the counter to Earth Hour—you know, that time when hippies everywhere turn off their lights for an hour to supposedly show solidarity with Mother Nature—it involves lots of lights, food, drink, and even had a streaming video of it. (In case you saw me on there, I apologize. I never wanted to hurt people with my ugliness.)
But even uglier than me were some of the comments on the event’s Facebook page. Many called it “stupid,” even “evil,” and one person who said “I wasn’t going to turn my lights off, but now I will.” To which I ask these people, why?
There seems to be a misconception that somehow, free market capitalism and individual liberty are in direct opposition to saving the environment. This is not at all the case. Looking at history, what places have the best environments, the best air quality, the most protected wildlife refuges? It’s not in places like Eastern Europe, swamped in smog, or places like India or China or South America. They’re in places that have well defined property rights and a free market system. It all goes back to the Lorax and the Tragedy of the Commons: if you put private property rights in something, people will care about it.
War is a violent competition between two Governments to determine who will make the laws, levy the taxes, and regulate the behavior of individuals within a given geographic area.
War is ugly. It is brutal. It is about killing others until they submit. There is nothing more serious in the world than the taking of another individual’s life. It is the most grave of businesses. And If you believe in Natural Rights and the Principles of Individualism it should only be conducted as a defensive act against an aggressing Government.
Unfortunately, today like in the past war is looked upon not as a grave business but business as usual for the United States Government.
Today, the United States Government has military personnel on 900 installations around the world and over a trillion dollars of taxpayer money is used to fund the wars overseas and the continued “projection” of military power around the world. This is all done for the production of security for the American people. We are told by the propagandists inside and outside of the United States Government that we are all safer because of the endless war in Afghanistan, the continued military presence in Iraq, and the continued military drone assassinations of individuals deemed “terrorists” across the world. Then are also told that it is our moral imperative to kill warlords like Kony in Uganda, to help oust dictators like Assad in Syria and help kill dictators like Gaddafi in Libya so rebels could take over the reigns of government and bring about democratic reforms (which is usually code word for socialism). We are told that this is in the big scheme of things being done to protect “American Interests” overseas which in turn benefits all of us at home. Which in reality is a lie perpetrated by the government and its allies in the media to benefit itself and the few who profit when it goes to war.
While I don’t like to engage in conspiracy theories or anything like that, I do find it odd that President Barack Obama has been targeting the Supreme Court so heavily the last couple of days over ObamaCare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). Some conservatives have suggested that he knows how members of the High Court cast their initial ballots on Friday and what we’re seeing is a reaction to that.
Obama may really just be trying to sway Justice Anthony Kennedy, but it’s hard to see how this will play well with him or even Chief Justice John Roberts, who was believed to be more sympathetic (though that’s quite a stretch) to the administration’s argument. Obama has already spurned Kennedy once thanks to his 2010 State of the Union address in which he blasted the decision in Citizens United, an opinion written by Kennedy.
But thinking about the motivation for Obama to do this, here are a few scenarios that I’ve been thinking about today.
Obama has no idea where the Supreme Court is going: As mentioned above, he’s desparate to see his signature domestic initiative survive this legal challenge and he’s is making an odd plea for them to rule on his side. Again, the way he has handled this, if this is truly the case — and it may very well be, is odd and probably not the best move.
Obama knows the PPACA is going down: Then what we’ve seen the last couple of days is indeed Obama lashing out at the Supreme Court. This is what opponents of ObamaCare want to believe, myself included. He knows it’s coming and we can call this part of the “five states of grief.”
In my last post, I wrote about intellectual property rights, and why one position that has preoccupied many libertarians—that is, that intellectual property rights don’t exist—is balderdash and something we need to ditch. In my next post, I’m going to comment on libertarian foreign policy positions that I find completely untenable, but in this one, I’m going to focus on my pet peeve of many libertarians: anarcho-capitalism.
Seriously. It’s starting to really grind my gourd.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at an event or just talking with someone, trying to explain libertarianism, when the other person says, “Oh, you just want to privatize the entire government and just let the big businesses run amok and have nothing!” While the second point might be unfair to anarcho-capitalists—I suspect a lot of them have no real love for big business—the rest of it is more or less dead-on for this small yet highly vocal minority of libertarians. Unfortunately, their antics and rhetoric have begun to become associated with the liberty movement in general, which discredits us, prevents us from gaining any more traction with the public, and ultimately is just detrimental to the goal of maximizing individual liberty, which is what the movement is about.
Personally, I don’t really think anarcho-capitalism does that, and let me show you why.
For someone that was a “constitutional law professor,” President Barack Obama doesn’t seem to have a very good grasp of constitutional law. While appearing yesterday before a group of newspaper executives, Obama once again launched a preemptive attack on the Supreme Court over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — also known as ObamaCare:
President Obama elaborated on his claim that a Supreme Court ruling against Obamacare would be “unprecedented,” as he suggested today that the court does not take its responsibilities “seriously” if they do.
“We have not seen a court overturn a law that was passed by Congress, on a economic issue, like healthcare — like I think most people would clearly consider commerce — a law like that has not been overturned at least since Lochner [vs New York, 1905],” Obama told reporters during the question-and-answer session of the Associated Press luncheon.
Of course members of the Supreme Court take the task given to them seriously, even if we don’t always agree with their conclusions on issues that come before them. They play an important role in our system of checks-and-balances — striking down several dozen acts of Congress from 1981 to 2005. Thi is a role that some on the Left have apparently forgotten, including Obama himself.
If you’re Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich, you’re taking a hard look this morning at whether or not you should stay in the race for the Republican nomination. Last night, Mitt Romney had a very good showing in three primaries — Maryland, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, taking some 90% of the delegates on the table.
- Romney: 49%
- Santorum: 29%
- Gingrich: 11%
- Paul: 10%
- Romney: 43%
- Santorum: 38%
- Paul: 12%
- Gingrich: 6%
- Romney: 70%
- Paul: 12%
- Gingrich: 11%
As it stands now, Romney has 655 delegates, more than half of the 1,144 needed to secure the nomination. Santorum is far behind with 278 delegates. Gingrich has 135. And Ron Paul, who has had a better showing that four years ago, only has 51.
It’s becoming more apparent that Romney isn’t going to be stopped at this point. And The Hill reports this morning that Santorum may go ahead and withdraw from the race before Pennsylvania, his home state, heads to the polls on April 24th. It would be a face saving move. He wouldn’t risk losing his home state to Romney, where he only holds a small lead, and he wouldn’t harm his chances in 2016 — assuming Romney doesn’t win in the fall.
Last night, Gary Johnson, who served two terms as Governor of New Mexico, visited the Colbert Report to talk about his campaign and the issues that he is running on. As you know, Gov. Johnson was running as a Republican; however, after some very poor treatment from debate sponsors and GOP faithful, he decided to switch parties in December, joining the Libertarian Party and declaring as a candidate for thier nomination:
We’ve been bombarded recently by the story of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old black boy shot as he walked home from the store. The facts remain uncertain at this point, so I’ll not comment specifically. On the other hand, it’s been said that death and taxes are the only sure things in life, but I think we can make a compelling case for a third; namely, that race-baiting media prostitutes like the “Reverends” Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton will trip over themselves rushing to the scene of a camera…oops, I mean, crime…at least where a black victim is involved. These men and others like them make a living peddling influence on racial issues, whipping up angry crowds at rallies and marches, calling for boycotts and civil disobedience in the name of “justice”. Even Trayvon’s mother got in on the lucrative act, copyrighting her dead son’s name.
In the Martin case, we can add the likes of Barack “If I had a son he would look like Trayvon” Obama (is there ANY subject that man can’t make about him?) and black filmmaker and social agitator Spike Lee. Lee, in his anger at George Zimmerman, Trayvon’s shooter, “tweeted” Zimmerman’s home address, with the clear intent of having a mob go to Zimmerman’s home to mete out the “justice” the legal system had so far failed to provide. Except it wasn’t Zimmerman’s address, but the address of an elderly couple whose lives he now put at risk. Lee apologized only for the clerical error, but not for circumventing the justice system and trying to organize a lynch mob. It was echoes of Al Sharpton and the mythical Tawanna Brawley rape all over again. Facts have no meaning, only racial outrage.
I’ve never been a big reader. Of course, I read a lot for research for what I write here on the blog, but apparently it’s not the same as reading books. Recently I’ve noticed that my writing is better when I’m reading, so I’m going to make an attempt at reviewing one book a month in an effort to keep myself reading.
This first review is of How to Run for Office on a Liberty Platform, a collection of advice submitted by liberty candidates from the last couple of years. I found out about this book when I heard Gigi Bowman on my friend Valerie Meyers’ internet radio show.
Basic premise of the book. It’s an interesting idea: collect bits of wisdom from similar candidates, compile it, organize it, and share it for others’ benefit.
What I liked. It’s a well-organized book, the information from the candidates is broken up into small pieces so it’s easy to pick up and read a little at a time. Most of the information is very valuable, though sometimes contrary (one candidate says not to waste time going door-to-door while another says it’s the best way to meet voters). A few of the candidates really stood apart from the others, and if I were planning a run for office, I’d contact them directly for more input on how to run for office.
After taking control of the House of Representatives in a wave election in 2010, House Republicans decided to extend their moratorium on earmarks, a controversial budget tactic that allow members to insert pet projects in spending bills without so much as a committee hearing or vote.
But before the GOP took control, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), who would later become House Majority Leader, suggested that the moratorium on earmarks may only be temporary, which would be a slap in the face to fiscal conservatives and Tea Party activists that helped the GOP come back to power. Cantor was quick to amend his remarks, but it looks like House Republicans have learned little. Reuters notes that they are considering resuming the practice of earmarking:
The huge federal transportation bill was in tatters in early March when Representative Mike Rogers of Alabama posed a heretical idea for breaking through gridlock in the House.
In a closed-door meeting with fellow Republicans, Rogers recommended reviving a proven legislative sweetener that became politically toxic a year ago.
Bring back earmarks, Rogers, who was first elected to Congress in 2002, told his colleagues.
Few members of Congress have been bold enough to use the “e” word since both the House and Senate temporarily banned the practice last year after public outcries about Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” and other pork barrel projects.
But as lawmakers wrestle with legislative paralysis, there are signs that earmarks - special interest projects that used to be tacked onto major bills - could make a comeback.