Jeremy Kolassa

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Americans Should Not Take Sides in Palestine

Israel

A curious thing happened to my Twitter feed late last week: the official Twitter account of the Israeli Defense Forces started appearing with greater and greater frequency. This baffled me, as I don’t subscribe to the IDF (indeed, I had no clue they even had Twitter) until I realized that it was all being retweeted by many, many conservative (and even some libertarian) friends.

By now we are well aware of the conflict going on between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli government in Jerusalem. I say this, and not between the Palestinian and Israeli people, because I think this is a conflict mostly driven by political ideologies and politicians’ stupidity, and that the vast bulk of the people living in either territory would just want it to stop. They want the rockets to stop falling, the bombs to stop falling, the bulldozing to stop wrecking, the dead to stop dying.

Yet amazingly, Americans all across the right-wing spectrum are chanting for more death, more violence, more destruction, more chaos, in an area that really has nothing to do with anything American and which a victory for either side will mean absolutely nothing for our national interests (aside from, perhaps, whether or not we’ll bring on the Eschaton this year.) Meanwhile, the United States gives over $3 billion a year to Israel in military aid, a cost that—in these dire straits, facing a fiscal cliff—we can and must cut.

Nevermind the budgetary impact—I feel what we’re doing here is deeply immoral.

Republican Base Forgets How Primaries Work

While combing through the post-election coverage, I found this little gem from Tony Lee of Breitbart News:

Jenny Beth Martin, National Coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, criticized the Republican Party for hand-picking a Beltway elite candidate who did not campaign forcefully on America’s founding principles and said the “presidential loss is unequivocally on them.”

“For those of us who believe that America, as founded, is the greatest country in the history of the world – a ‘Shining city upon a hill’ – we wanted someone who would fight for us,” Martin said. “We wanted a fighter like Ronald Reagan who boldly championed America’s founding principles, who inspired millions of independents and ‘Reagan Democrats’ to join us, and who fought his leftist opponents on the idea that America, as founded, was a ‘Shining city upon a hill.’

Instead, Martin lamented, “what we got was a weak moderate candidate, hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country-club establishment wing of the Republican Party.”

Er, what?

No, really, I want to know what’s going on here. Because it seems evident to me that Republican voters went to Republican primaries and voted for their candidate for the Republican nomination. The “Establishment” did not foist Romney upon them. Republican voters made their choices at primaries and caucuses across the nation this past spring.

Time to Separate Conservatism from Religion—And Fast

Religion and Politics

It is far past time to separate the conservative movement in this country from it’s fanatical marriage to religion, to once and for all put to bed the idea that all conservatives are Christian and that to be a conservative one must be a very religious person.

This is complete balderdash.

Recent surveys have put the number of nonreligious Americans at 20%, or one-fifth of the population. That’s right: one out of every five Americans does not have a religious affiliation. That’s not the same as being atheist or agnostic—we’re only 6% of the population—but it is significant. That’s because almost every argument for social conservative policies, which are a main course in the conservative policy dinner, are argued for on either religious lines or appeals to “tradition” or “Western civilization,” and those almost always come back to religion too.

What that means is that there is automatically one-fifth of the population that disagrees with you, and will always disagree with you, and will very likely always support your opponent.

Did The GOP Just Wake Up?

romney

The 2012 election was a crushing blow to conservatives and Republicans across the board. Although they held onto the House, they still had losses there, and totally failed to take the Senate, and had a fairly disastrous presidential election. Yet there appears to be some hope on the horizon, because already the GOP soul-searching has begun, and already I am seeing some encouraging signs.

So I do have to ask: Did you idiots just wake up and crawl out from under a rock in Oklahoma, or what?

We’ve been saying here for months at United Liberty—and for me personally, elsewhere before then—that if the GOP didn’t tone down the social conservatism and stop with the anti-gay messages and the anti-science messages (Paul Broun, anyone?) and for once in their lives genuinely embrace limited government, they were going to lose a generation. It took a shellacking in the polls this year to shake Republicans out their idiotic stupor.

Look at this tweet:

Listen to Representative Steve LaTourette from Ohio, who said it beautifully:

Rep. Steve LaTourette, a Republican from Ohio, had some strong language for his party on Thursday, saying that he wants Republicans “out of people’s bedrooms.”

Is it time we adopted a Universal Basic Income?

One of the reasons that Mitt Romney and the Republicans lost Tuesday came down to one simple thing: people like free stuff. No, really. They want politicians to give them free stuff. The 47% comment rings true. It is, as Bastiat said, legal plunder, and people will totes vote for guys who will make sure they’re on the receiving end of the plunder.

Maybe conservatives and libertarians should go for more of this.

Okay, now that you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, having fallen there in shock, or reinflated your forehead, having violently flattened against your desk, hear me out. I’m not suggesting that conservatives and libertarians give up their principled stand for the free market and become socialists. Quite on the contrary, what I suggest has been supported and proposed by no less conservative/libertarian luminaries as Frederich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Charles Murray.

You can probably see where I’m going with this: I think it’s time we start to seriously discuss the idea of a basic income guarantee. In a nutshell, this would be an annual payout to all citizens, establishing a “floor” of sorts for people’s income. Charles Murray, an intellectual titan residing at the American Enterprise Institute, put this idea into book form in 2006 with In Our Hands. He explained his idea in a publication by the Foundation for Law, Justice, and Society in the UK [PDF]:

An Open Letter from a (small-l) libertarian to the Libertarian Party: This Is Your Last Chance

I want to love the Libertarian Party. I really do. It’s the only political party out there that is anywhere close to my beliefs. I cannot stand the Democrats’ Keynesian social welfare malarkey, which ruins our economy, keeps folks from getting jobs, basically makes people dependent on the government, and is run on absolutely no logic whatsoever. Conversely, I cannot stand the Republicans’ social conservatism BS, which oppresses gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, Muslims, pagans, atheists (and agnostics), Hispanics, immigrants, marijuana users and, to an extent, women. I can’t stand either party’s foreign policy, or their joint support of such idiotic civil liberty destroying things such as our current national security state or the war on drugs. Only the Libertarian Party has a platform that I fully (or near as fully as anyone can) support.

But regrettably, the Libertarian Party hasn’t had a lot of success. This is understandable; we are unfortunately stuck on a rather ridiculous plurality vote system that became obsolete in the middle of the 20th century, an archaic throwback to a far more simpler time when the entire electorate was comprised of a bunch of old white landowners (all men, natch.) In our current system, it is nearly impossible for a third party to get success anywhere, though there are examples where they do (notably at the governor level, including, this last time around, Rhode Island.)

New Directions for our Major Parties?

No matter who wins Tuesday, we lose. That could easily sum up the 2012 presidential election. Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney have any sort of plan to solve the problems facing us; neither has any path towards entitlement reform (Romney sort of does, but I doubt he would ever implement it); both are warmongering morons; and both will continue to grow and enlarge the state.

If there isn’t going to be much change in actual policy, then there might be a sea change in our two major parties’ attitudes and behaviors. What follows is highly speculative, but since there are pundits out there predicting we will elect a Smashing Meteor of Death this year, that’s probably just fine. I do think, one way or another, that in the years following this election both parties will undergo deep changes. This election will definitely not be a realigning election, but the fallout just might.

First, let’s review the reasons for why each party’s standardbearer might lose this election.

If Romney loses, it will come down to these reasons:

  1. He is an empty suit running an entirely empty campaign. Rather than articulate any clear deviation from Obama’s course, he has only said that Obama has done a terrible job and then put forth not details, not plans, but vague corporate marketing speak that does nothing. Voters will decide to go with The Devil They KnowTM and ignore this just-as-bad challenger.

  2. This is the dude who came up with the blueprint of Obamacare—what all Republicans hate. So…duh.

So much for the “Peace President”: US to Invade Mali?

youth vote

From the AP, it appears we may be invading yet another third-world country:

ALGEIRS, Algeria (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought Algeria’s assistance on Monday for any future military intervention in Mali, pressing the North African nation to provide intelligence — if not boots on the ground — to help rout the al-Qaida-linked militants across its southern border.

Clinton, on the first stop of a five-day trip overseas, met with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika as the United States and its allies ramped up preparations to fight northern Mali’s breakaway Islamist republic.

When Mali’s democratically elected leader was ousted in a military coup in March, Tuareg rebels seized on the power vacuum and within weeks took control of the north, aided by an Islamist faction. The Islamists then quickly ousted the Tuaregs and took control of half the country.

So much for Barack Obama being the peace president, ending the disastrous interventionist foreign policy of George W. Bush. Have we learned nothing in the past decade? We go into Afghanistan to kick out the Taliban and “restore democracy,” and end up getting Harmid Karzai, more Islamists, and a bunch of people who hate us. We go into Iraq to kick out Saddam Hussein, and what we get is a country wracked by violence and bloodshed, more militant Islamists, and a bunch of people who hate us. We go into Libya to help with that country’s rebellion, and what do we get? An unstable country, a bunch of Islamists, and four dead Americans—including our Ambassador.

Reforming the Electoral College

Electoral Vote for October 29th

There’s been a lot of talk lately, between Steven Taylor, Doug Mataconis, Jazz Shaw, and other bloggers, about the Electoral College. It seems to come up every now and then, usually in pieces calling for it’s abolition. That’s Steven’s and Jazz’s take, and they do make good points. Steven mostly thinks that the EC is irrelevant, and indeed, somewhat undemocratic:

Here’s the deal:  the only southern states that are true toss-ups are Virginia and Florida, and under any plausible EC scenario President Obama can lose them both and still win the electoral vote.  Governor Romney, however, can not.

Imagine a world in which all of those extra Southern voters mattered and imagine how differently the candidates would be behaving if that were the case.  As it stands, all of that Romney support is contained almost exclusively in places where extra support has no marginal value.  Each extra voter in Alabama who decides to vote for Romney simply doesn’t matter.  An Ohio voter, however, matters an awful lot.

A grand irony here is that a standard pro-EC argument is that it protects the states against national sentiment.  However, if the Gallup poll is correct and Romney wins the popular vote by a large margin due to overwhelming support in southern states, but still loses the electoral college, the fact of the matter will be that the EC actually diminished the significance of those states.

This is also, more or less, what Jazz Shaw thinks:

Why this Libertarian is Voting for Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson

Like many libertarians, I am voting for Gary Johnson. This is not because he is the candidate of the Libertarian Party. It is because he is the only candidate running who is presenting a libertarian message, who is actually dealing with reality, and who has a plan that can get us out of our current mess. Neither Romney nor Obama have shown they are willing to work with reality, have plans that can actually solve our current problems, or anything close to a libertarian message.

Specifically, I am voting for Johnson and not Romney because I do not see how voting for the GOP is going to move us anywhere closer to a libertarian future. I have heard the case made that if libertarians join with conservatives and vote for Romney, their voices will be heard in the party. But how true can that be? The party shut out Gary Johnson, then pushed away Ron Paul, and none of their policies made it into Romney’s campaign. If libertarians vote for Romney now, it will just show that we are rubes that are easily bought by rhetoric, and then can safely be ignored during the administration. There will be no message sent other than “continue as normal, they don’t really care.” But by voting third party, by voting for Gary Johnson, you sap valuable votes away, and perhaps put some states and districts into play they don’t want. Only then, only after you put them into a place of weakness, will the party ever come to the table and ask what we libertarians want. Only then will they start to move towards us.

Not before. As long as they get our votes while doing nothing more than utilizing rhetoric, they will do so—and send us further into debt, war, cronyism, and socially conservative jihads. And the only way to change that, my friends, is to vote for someone who won’t.

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