Individual Liberties

Aurora: Let’s Use Reason, Not Hyperbole

Blogger-in-chief Jason Pye has already written a great post on not giving in to hype and emotion over what happened in Aurora. What happened there was a terrible tragedy, and it was only made worse by baseless accusations and shoddy reporting on “both sides” being multiplied dozens of times over. (Personally, I think ABC’s Brian Ross should be fired for his incredibly inept rush to judgment, trying to pin the tragedy on a Tea Party member who had nothing to do with it, but that’s another post.)

There are just a few points I myself want to make:

Politicizing Tragedy

Nearly everyone who hasn’t jumped on this political bandwagon or another has jumped on the “Don’t politicize this tragedy!” bandwagon. Doug Mataconis has a very good post on Outside The Beltway about just this, and for the most part, I agree with him. I think it is dirty and disgusting to try and score political points over the deaths of a dozen people, including a six-year old. It’s just wrong, period, and we should be mourning, not trying to use it as evidence in political trench warfare.

Yet, the problem is one of law and order—and one of government’s legitimate functions is the protection of lives and property. Many ask—rightfully so—what can be done to prevent this from happening again, and inevitably, that discussion involves government to some extent. When you have that sort of situation, it’s impossible for it to stay un-politicized. Complaining about it is about as useful as complaining about how bad an Aaron Sorkin feature is. It’s going to be that way.

Cory Booker: The Drug War Is “Big Overgrown Government At Its Worst”

Cory Booker

Newark Mayor Cory Booker has made headlines in recent years for his dedication to responding to citizen complaints via social media, for rescuing a neighbor from a house fire, and for assisting one of his bodyguards in helping a car accident victim.

Indeed, his heroism become the subject of an amusing video with Governor Chris Christie that was part of the state’s annual political correspondents dinner. This past weekend, however, he made some headlines for what many people will likely consider controversial comments about the War On Drugs:

Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker took to Reddit Sunday to criticize the war on drugs, saying it was ineffective and “represents big overgrown government at its worst.”

“The so called War on Drugs has not succeeded in making significant reductions in drug use, drug arrests or violence,” the Democrat wrote during the Reddit “ask me anything” chat. “We are pouring huge amounts of our public resources into this current effort that are bleeding our public treasury and unnecessarily undermining human potential.”

Booker then called drug arrests a “game.”

“My police in Newark are involved in an almost ridiculous game of arresting the same people over and over again and when you talk to these men they have little belief that there is help or hope for them to break out of this cycle,” he wrote.

Here’s exactly how Booker put it in his Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session:

It’s Time to Rethink Fusionism

Two weeks ago, I wrote not one, but two posts about how conservatives had basically foisted Obamacare upon the populace. About how conservatives wanted libertarians to join them again, and vote for a conservative…who wrote Obamacare. About how conservatives had lost any sense they principles they had.

This is an addendum.

Since the end of World War II, libertarians and conservatives have been allied in a loose coalition known as “fusionism.” The idea was that, as communism and social “democracy” was on the rise, anyone who believed in free markets had to ban together, at the expense of other ideas. It originally began with Frank S. Meyer, an American philosopher, who believed that libertarian free market concepts worked hand in hand with conservative traditionalism.

However, it has become clear to me, and to growing numbers of libertarians, that this is false. That the entire fusionist experiment was really born out of necessity, not principled ideology, as a way to survive the Cold War. And especially the last few years have shown, the conservative “movement” has come utterly unhinged.

The birthers. The Kenyan anti-colonialist crap. The accusations our president is a secret Muslim. The now ludicrous defenses of bigotry against homosexuals, transgendered, and those who do not believe. And then there is the vehement and heated arguments against spending…but on the same front, conservatives themselves spend and spend and spend. They just want to spend a tad less than liberals.

Sandra Fluke: Totalitarian

Apparently a reporter at the New York Times Magazine didn’t get the memo that left-wing feminist hack Sandra Fluke’s 15 minutes were long past up. The reporter, Andrew Goldman, tracked Sandra down to get her er…..thoughts on some issues related to her call for the American people to pay for her birth control.

First up: About Rush Limbaugh’s despicable comments calling her a “slut” and attempts to have him taken off the air.

Free speech is a complex area legally, but it’s important to recognize that there are distinctions between one’s ability to express an opinion versus one’s ability to use F.C.C.-regulated airwaves to do so, and also one’s ability to engage in speech versus one’s ability to engage in slander.

First of all, there is no moral defense for what Rush Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke. If Rush Limbaugh called my mother, wife, daughter, girlfriend, sister, or any other woman I care about a slut, I would have some choice words for him. As a Southern boy, I was raised by my single mom to show women respect. However, I will defend to my death Rush Limbaugh’s right to free speech.

Opinion: “First, they came for the donor lists…”

Emboldened by the response to my piece last week, I put on my political theorist hat this weekend and penned another editorial that has now been published in The Daily Caller. Here’s an excerpt:

“Don’t we all have a right to know,” asks Obama campaign manager Jim Messina in a recent fundraising email, “exactly which corporations and individuals are spending millions in attack ads to influence elections – and what their agendas are?” While we should expect this type of rhetoric from bullies who think that the government should force workers to give up their right to a secret ballot in unionization proceedings, making it easier for Democratic supporters to rake new campaign funds from their peers’ paychecks, this is one of those times when “No” is a complete, forceful, and declarative sentence.

But in fairness to Messina, to whom I wish a swift and humiliating trip to the unemployment line this November, we should (for a moment) take his claim at face value. We should ask, “Upon what moral principle” – we’re talking about rights, after all – “is this ‘right to know’ predicated?”

“Whither the ‘Challenge and Question Authority’ Liberals?”

That’s the title of an opinion piece I wrote for The Daily Caller which you can read in its entirety here.

A selection:

…in the market for political representation, the powerful thrive on market failure. Economics teaches us that (near-) perfect information is a prerequisite for well functioning markets. Thus, in the market for political representation, the press plays the critical role of finding and relaying information to the public it otherwise would not have, of correcting an information asymmetry. When the press cannot (or does not) do its job, or when the government will not allow it to do so, the government enjoys surplus political capital (support, votes, power) at the expense of the governed.

It is deeply troubling that reporters have succumbed so far to this paradigm of failure that an incident like Friday’s [kerfuffle between The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro and President Obama] shocked the status quo such that a veteran Washington reporter found himself castigated openly by his colleagues.

I hope you’ll read the rest, and share with your friends!

Cross-posted.

A Love Letter to Ron Paul Die-Hards and Anarcho-Capitalists

EDIT: I’m not saying that Ron Paul fans are necessarily anarcho-capitalists. They are two camps that need to be addressed equally, and thus share a post. I apologize if the title seems a bit misleading.

I love you guys. Well and truly.

You are truly the only people who can say, with a straight face, that you want to see absolutely no government in the world, or that parents should be able to sell their children, or that law could be perfectly administered through courts that competed for customers like car dealerships. (“You need a court that respects your right for others to pay for your contraception? Come in and get no money down on a brand new 2012 court case!”)

The unbound and unhampered loyalty you have to a Texas congressman who preaches liberty and peace is just simply adorable. You call his son a sellout for not endorsing his father, start riots at state GOP conventions to grab as many delegates for him as possible, and even started a campaign to sue the Republicans for not allowing delegates bound to other candidates to vote for him. Just adorable. You’re like little puppies, yipping and yapping at anyone who gets too close to your candidate, anyone who might might be some big ugly meanie in disguise. It’s cute.

So that’s why, since I’m so in love with you, that I have to take a moment and tell you to stop hurting yourself.

No, really.

You’re starting to make yourself look foolish. Childish, even. Your inability to accept that Ron Paul will not win the nomination is a sign of being a poor loser, and nobody likes a poor loser. Your other inability to accept compromise with others—such as you demonization Paul’s son Rand—means you won’t have any friends. And for some of you, your inability to take what you can get, rather than singing Queen’s “I Want It All” at the top of your lungs every day, makes you look utterly crazy.

Prostrate at the Feet of Our Nanny-State Masters

“Find out just what people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them…The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” ~ Fredrick Douglass, Freed Slave and leader of the abolitionist movement

Having already made a name for himself nationwide with a crackdown on crime in the nation’s largest city, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani made his place in history permanent just over a decade ago with his inspiring and firm handling of the Muslim terrorist attacks of 9/11. In the aftermath of that attack, Giuliani brought a city and a nation together, refusing to allow bloodthirsty madmen the satisfaction ofour surrender. True, they dealt a devastating blow, but it was a sneak attack in a long war, and like Pearl Harbor, it would be answered with overwhelming force.

A decade later, third-term NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken up the mantle of leadership from the retired Giuliani, and also works diligently to protect the citizens of New York City. Admittedly, I have been highly critical of Bloomberg in the past, as when he accused the Times Square Bomber of being a disgruntled TEA Party member angry at the ObamaCare bill (as it turned out, it was an angry practitioner of Islam, the Pakistani-born Faisal Shahzad…but in Bloomberg’s defense, what were the odds that the bomber would turn out to be an angry Muslim? I’d say the odds were no more than 9.95 out of ten at best).

Conservatives Need To Focus On The Two Scandals That Matter

There have been a lot of silly “scandals” during this election season, which is a usual and normal waste byproduct of the American election process, though this year has been notably intense. Unfortunately, between the “scandals” of Obama having eaten dog while a child in Indonesia, criticism over a flubbed line in Poland, guffaws about him using the word “thingamajig” in a speech, and the resurgent “Birther” nonesense, conservatives and libertarians are losing sight of the real problems with the Obama administration. As I see it, there are two that need to be focused on relentlessly:

  1. The absolutely dismal economic situation, exacerbated by this president’s misguided and foolhardy policies
  2. The utterly atrocious record on civil liberties that President Obama has engendered, a holdover from the Bush administration (so much for “Change”)

Everything else can pretty much be secondary to this or just treated as nonsense. These are the real core problems with the Obama administration, and they are all that conservatives need to hammer him with. Forget the memes, forget the social conservatism, just focus on two things: jobs and civil liberties (which does, in case you’re wondering, tie into foreign policy. A bit.)

The economic problem is fairly straightforward: this is the worst recession since World War II, bar none. From the Calculated Risk blog, this chart shows you how badly:

worst_recession

What is “Ordered Liberty” Anyways?

No, I’m not suggesting a name change for the blog. What I’m talking about is the concept called “ordered liberty,” which is frequently used by conservatives as an attempt to appeal to libertarians. “Why, yes,” they say, “We believe in liberty, but we think it should be ordered.” It came up during a debate at Cato last year between Cato interns and Heritage Foundation interns (unless my memory is horrifically mistaken) and I’ve seen it be deployed in arguments across social networks. It was recently used on one blog, regarding the Amendment One vote in North Carolina, noting that incestrous relationships and polygamy were “detrimental to ordered liberty.”

But what exactly is ordered liberty? I’ve never really figured out just what, if anything, people using the term are really trying to say.

The two people that the term appears to have come from are giants in the field of conservatism: Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk. These two are probably the intellectual giants of modern American conservatism*, along with William F. Buckley. It was they who came up with this phrase, which, for what I can deduce, is essentially that liberty is not allowed to run completely amok, and that there must be some limits.

From chapter 5 of Russell Kirk’s The American Cause, aptly titled “Ordered Liberty”:

Now in the political beliefs of what we call “Christian civilization” or “Western civilization”—of which American civilization is a part—there are three cardinal ideas: the idea of justice, the idea of order, and the idea of freedom. These three great concepts are the cement of American society.

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