Archives for May 2012
I’m told there was a NATO summit in Chicago over the weekend (as well as a historic G8 summit at Camp David at about the same time.) I’m also told that there were a lot of protests which got violent.
The main reason that people seem to be protesting the NATO summit is that it’s somehow a tool of the 1% to continue to oppress the 99%. While I agree with the dislike of NATO, that’s a bad argument to be using. NATO is not economic; it is military and foreign policy oriented.
As much as it puts a bad taste in my mouth, though, I will agree with these anti-NATO types on one thing: at a minimum, the United States should not be in NATO; and at the far end, NATO itself should be dismantled.
The explicit reason for NATO’s existence was to combat the Soviets, after Stalin and his minions drew the Iron Curtain around Eastern Europe and began the Cold War. It’s right there in its name: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It’s original mission, as defined by its first General Secretary, was to “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”
That was in 1949. It’s 2012 right now. The entire geopolitical structure has changed. There’s no need to keep the Germans down; there’s no Americans to keep in; and while Russia is still run by a bunch of jerks, they’re hardly the Communist country they used to be. Indeed, it is telling that the first action that NATO engaged in had nothing to do with its original purpose, and did not even take place in Europe, or the North Atlantic, but rather in Afghanistan.
I don’t know from what data set this analyst pulled the points for analysis, nor can I verify that it represents anything actually going on in the world. Still, have a look:
Essentially, the analyst took the most common birth dates data, and shifted those plots leftward (backward in time) approximately nine months to find out when it was most likely (and, conversely, least likely) that people were … ahem … “reproducing.”
Given what a complicated, cumbersome, and life-force-damping wet blanket our tax code is, it should be no surprise that people get cold feet in April every year; there’s too much else to think and worry about.
Well, at least a part of it. From the Associated Press (via Newsday):
A judge on Wednesday struck down a portion of a law giving the government wide powers to regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists, saying it left journalists, scholars and political activists facing the prospect of indefinite detention for exercising First Amendment rights.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan said in a written ruling that a single page of the law has a “chilling impact on First Amendment rights.” She cited testimony by journalists that they feared their association with certain individuals overseas could result in their arrest because a provision of the law subjects to indefinite detention anyone who “substantially” or “directly” provides “support” to forces such as al-Qaida or the Taliban. She said the wording was too vague and encouraged Congress to change it.
“An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so,” the judge said.
She said the law also gave the government authority to move against individuals who engage in political speech with views that “may be extreme and unpopular as measured against views of an average individual.
“That, however, is precisely what the First Amendment protects,” Forrest wrote.
In the words of our forefathers, Hallelujah.
If you listen to his critics, you’d think that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is a far-right conservative that has slashed spending and taxes to near apocalyptic levels. Of course, wth a recall election coming early next month in Wisconsin thanks to Big Labor’s outrage at reforms to the state’s collective bargaining agreement, this sort of rhetoric is expected. But Reason has pieced together a view debunking some of the oft-repeated lies about Gov. Scott Walker’s fiscal conservatism:
On Wednesdays, I noted that Common Cause has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the filibuster, a procedural tactic used in the Senate to stall legislation, is unconstitutional. This lawsuit was filed despite the fact that Article I, Section 5, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution allows each chamber of Congress the right to craft its own rules.
Despite that glaring fact, Politico quoted Stephen Spaulding, staff counsel for Common Cause, saying, “[The Senate] cannot adopt their own rules, and that’s an issue we think the courts should settle.” It’s a political point more than a lawsuit that they hope will result in any actual change in Senate rules.
But here is the kicker, and perhaps the most important point about Common Cause. Doug Mataconis notes that, when the filibuster was threatened by Senate Republicans over judicial nominees seven years, Common Cause defended use of the tactic:
Common Cause strongly opposes any effort by Senate leaders to outlaw filibusters of judicial nominees to silence a vigorous debate about the qualifications of these nominees, short-circuiting the Senate’s historic role in the nomination approval process.
“The filibuster shouldn’t be jettisoned simply because it’s inconvenient to the majority party’s goals,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “That’s abuse of power.”
Visual media is a powerful way to spread a message. In the modern era of the Internet, we’ve learned this quite well—there are entire websites devoted to silly images that absorb you entirely. In the spirit of the 21st century, then, I want to offer some images that I feel sum up our modern age. Let me know if you agree, and add your own suggestions in the comments.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is your world in pictures. And this is why those of us out here who can see this decide to fight.
How can you not see the madness?
Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan, a conservative turned liberal, wrote a post criticising the Tea Party movement for standing by while George W. Bush broke the bank only to protest Barack Obama for his spending measures. According to Sullivan, this isn’t based on disagreement with Obama for his big spending ways, rather the fact that he is black:
[T[he Tea Party, utterly indifferent to massive spending in good times by a Republican, had a conniption at a black Democrat’s modest measures to limit the worst downturn since the 1930s. Conniption isn’t really he right word: this was a cultural and political panic in the face of a president who was advocating what were only recently Republican policies: tax cuts, Romneycare on a national level, cap-and-trade, a W-style immigration reform, and a relentless war on Jihadism. They reached back to a time, when there were only three kinds of Americans - native, white and slaves. They even wore powdered wigs.
While I don’t necessarily disagree that conservative opposition to immigration reform is based on more than public policy, I completely disagree that the Tea Party movement opposes Obama’s policies just because he is black.
I don’t disagree that Bush was a fiscal nightmare, and it’s my belief that he set the Republican Party back several years. And shortly after the Tea Party movement started in early 2009, I criticized them for not calling out Bush’s spending spree.
Earlier this week it was reported that Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin had renounced his United States citizenship rather than pay taxes on his share of the revenues of Facebook going public, saving him upwards of $100 million in capital gains taxes. The move raises eyebrows, it is becoming increasingly more popular rather than to face the higher tax burden in the United States, though Saverin, who was born Brazil, will owe some money, what is being referred to as an “exit tax.”
But some Senate Democrats aren’t willing to let Saverin off that easy. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has introduced legislation that would target Saverin and other people who renounce their citizenship to leave the United States for more tax friendly confines:
Presuming that Saverin moved to avoid paying taxes, Schumer and Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania on Thursday unveiled legislation to stop what they called a “despicable trend.”
Under their legislation, any American who renounces his or her citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxes will be punished in two ways: They will be barred from re-entering the U.S., and their future investments in the U.S. will be taxed at a 30 percent rate.
Taking advantage of every Facebook one-liner available, Schumer said of Saverin, “Sen. Casey and I have a status update for him: Pay your taxes in full, or don’t ever try to visit the U.S. again.”
Last week, President Barack Obama was the subject of unwelcome news stories after a convicted felon received over 40% of the vote against him in the West Virginia Democratic Primary.
And while Gallup reported this week that Democrats are happier with their nominee than Republicans, tell that to John Wolfe, who may give Obama a run for his money next week in Arkansas:
You haven’t heard of John Wolfe because the obscure Democratic candidate for president has raised less than $500, can’t afford radio or TV ads and hasn’t gotten much press.
Yet miraculously, a poll released this week shows Wolfe trailing President Barack Obama in the Arkansas Democratic primary — occurring next week — by just seven points.
In an interview with The Daily Caller on Wednesday, Wolfe described his barebones campaign, saying he thinks the shocking poll numbers in Arkansas are the result of an anybody-but-Obama attitude. He’s optimistic he could pull off an upset.
“I think there’s a chance,” said Wolfe, who is the only person appearing on the Democratic ballot for president with Obama in Arkansas.
Wolfe said he’s campaigned mostly by handing out fliers, which he emails to supporters who copy and distribute them. The fliers have his office and cell phone number on them.
On Twitter, many conservatives and Republicans have been badgering people who are threatening to not vote for Mitt Romney. They have been saying that if you don’t vote for Mitt Romney, you’re voting for Barack Obama. This is silly reasoning at its best. The only way you vote for Barack Obama is by actually voting for Barack Obama. Libertarians and others who love liberty should vote their conscience in November and vote for the candidate who best represents their views.
The Republican Party has not offered very much for libertarians to vote for. The GOP controlled House has failed to lead on reducing the size and scope of government. Mitt Romney has not offered up any serious or substantial cuts. Plus, Mitt Romney supports anti-liberty legislation such as the Federal Marriage Amendment and the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA. Plus, Romney during the primaries supported a hard-line on immigration reform and on foreign policy, generally offers more of the same as Barack Obama. Finally, there is the simple fact that all throughout Mitt Romney’s political career; he has been on just about every side of every issue possible, sometimes simultaneously. Romney, politically, is not a man to be trusted even in a millennium of Sundays.
On the other hand, I don’t need to tell anybody who reads this site how horrendous of a president Barack Obama is. He has been an absolute failure from a libertarian perspective, so I can understand the inclination to replace him, even with someone like Mitt Romney. However consider this, what kind of message would it send to the Republican Party to nominate someone like Romney and have him win?