Individual Liberties

Gary Johnson Won’t Spoil Romney

Much hash has been made lately of Gary Johnson taking the Libertarian Party nomination. He is probably the highest-profile candidate to run for the party in the past twenty years, thanks to his eight years of executive experience in New Mexico as a Republican, his hard-hitting libertarian principles, and the fact that, well, let’s face it: the guy is just cool.

I mean, scaling Mt. Everest? Vetoing over 750 bills? Saying weed, gay rights, and gun rights are all a-ok? That’s just not something that comes around every four years. And he’s also (relatively) young, which is always a plus. (Sorry, Ron.)

Naturally, though, a lot of people are exhibiting signs of a disease calling “Spoileritis.” A perfect example comes from a comment on Bob Barr’s Daily Caller column about Gary Johnson. Our erudite fan writes

A vote for this party is a vote for Obama.  Period.  Consider yourselves responsible for the destruction of this country for good!

Except there is zero evidence that this is the case.

Gary Johnson’s calls to slash 43% of military spending, end the Drug War, and most importantly, unabashedly legalize same-sex marriage, none of which are positions held by most Republicans. Instead, those positions are decidedly liberal, more on the side of Obama’s supporters. So when people go to the polls this November, it is likely that he will draw more supporters from Obama’s camp than Romney’s.

Chris Barron, chair of GOProud, the GOP’s gay and lesbian group, said the same thing in an interview with the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis:

Everything Wrong With The Libertarian Movement, Part 2: IP

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about what was wrong with the libertarian movement today, the mistakes and missteps we’ve perpetuated. I’ve been working on continuing the series, but there are several issues that are all complex. My initial post was more about the PR angle of it; the next three deal with actual philosophy. The three major problems that I see—and will explore in individual posts—is the current debate over intellectual property rights, the preoccupation with Rothbardian/Rockwellian anarcho-capitalism, and what I see as indequate foreign policy positions. All three of which, I think, make libertarianism look immature and unserious, and threaten its viability with the American public.

In this post, I’ll look into intellectual property rights; also, take a look at my first post, as well as read Tom Knighton’s excellent post on being more inclusive to moderate libertarians, and even letting them run the movement. But first, let’s look at IPR.

Many libertarians—not all, but many—are part of the anti-intellectual property movement. They argue that copyright is wrong, that one cannot have property rights in a mere idea, and that filesharing and data piracy should be completely legit and permissible. The main foundation for this position is that digital goods and intellectual goods cannot be scarce, thus you can’t have property in them. Stephen Kinsella, furthermore, argues over at Mises that this is theft—intellectual property rights would give A control over B’s property, by telling B not to use his or her property in certain ways.

All of this is balderdash.

Trayvon Martin: A Victim of the Fear State

There’s a lot of outrage over the death of 17-year old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida, last month. Trayvon was allegedly killed by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, who is claiming “self-defense.”

I’m not really clear on what actually happened. It appears that Trayvon entered a gated neighborhood, visting his father, when Zimmerman confronted him. Trayvon ran, unsure of what was going on, and Zimmerman—apparently the guy was some sort of criminal—shot and killed him. At some point during all of this, Zimmerman spoke with a 911 dispatcher, who asked him to back down. At least, this is what I think, from my limited knowledge, happened. (It should be noted that Zimmerman has not been arrested and is still out and about, though apparently in hiding.)

There have been calls to disarm neighborhood watch groups over this. There is also a lot of criticism towards a particular Florida law, called “Stand Your Ground,” which brings the self-defense claim out of the home and anywhere the person may be. These are both charges I disagree with; I am against disarming people in general, since law enforcement is essentially useless when it comes to actual, personal defense, and it seems ludicrous to me that you can defend yourself in your home but not on the street, such as if you get mugged. Such arguments are irrational.

But so are defenses of George Zimmerman.

What’s More Important: Liberty or Nonpartisanship?

I had an interesting discussion with Doug Mataconis and Brian Lehman on Twitter last night about partisanship and polarization in American politics. It was, of course, initiated over the death of Andrew Breitbart, conservative “journalist” extraordinaire, who infuriated many on the left and whose death brought out a number of deplorable comments that were akin to dancing on his grave. As Brian wrote:

And as Doug Mataconis tweeted later:

Who Has The Party Delegates?

What all the GOP candidates are after, are so-called ‘delegates.’Elected officials that will broker the convention of either party this fall. Officials are parcelled by the amount of votes, the candidates receive in the primary.

During Michigan’s primary recently, for instance, there were 30 official delegates, state-wide. Two were ‘at-large’ candidates, which meant they could be assigned individually to any winning candidate. The other 28 were ‘proportional’ ones, alotted through 14 congressional districts. During the push for the nominations in Michigan last night, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spent millions of dollars to influence the voting population; with TV ads, pamphlets, media, interviews, rallies, stickers, and much more. Michigan’s grand sum of politcal expenditure was near six million bucks.

Delegates are what really counts at the GOP convention. What looks to be happening, is that no clear winner will come out victorious. There’s a righteous number: 1444 delegates will win any nominee the victory-nod of the Republican National Committee. Nationwide, 2169 delegates are extended for contestation, until the RNC celebration in Tampa, Florida. From the RN Committee, an additional 117 delegates are added into the mix, ostensibly to keep debate lively and clear-up dead locks. So what appears, on first looks, to be a rather hot-headed and fast paced Republican rocket-launch to the RNC, is more like a jammed or misfired pistol in a duel.

Momentarily, Mitt Romney is in the lead, with 167 total delegates. Rick Santorum is second with roughly half, at 87. Newt Gingrich won only one state and has 32, while Ron Paul has 19 carefully collected delegations. The count may reshuffle at any moment, since constitutionalism and populism together, ring alarm-bells in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Is Libertarianism Part of the Conservative Movement?

Last night I attended a debate held at the American Enterprise Institute between Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online (and the Institute itself), author of Liberal Fascism and other notable works, and Matt Welch, of reason fame and the author of The Declaration of Independents. The question posed by the debate has been argued over ever since Franklin Delano Roosevelt began the New Deal, and conservatives and libertarians—then known as “classical liberals”—allied in order to present a unified front to keeping the massive new nanny state at bay. It was reinforced in the fifties when William Buckley formed National Review, and presented his argument for a “fusionist” political movement. It’s been going on for a long time, and it will continue to go on long into the future. Despite the jokes about it, the debate did not solve the question for most people. I, however, left convinced more than ever that libertarianism and conservatism do not mix.

Citizens United and SOPA/PIPA

You know, letting corporations donate to political campaigns and have free speech rights will destroy the country. Giving corporations the right to speech, like us, is a monumental threat to democracy. They would make us all beholden to the 1%. They would buy campaigns, transform this country into a plutocracy or, worse yet, a full blown corporatocracy. Who knows what terrible things they could do to our country. Why, with their money and resources, they would be able to warp and corrupt public opinion, and turn them against the government. They might even lead a campaign to stop online censorship!

I find it somewhat amusing that the progressives who railed against Citizens United so furiously are now finding themselves the beneficiaries of that decision. Citizens United allowed corporations and such organizations as unions to spend money on political campaigns, though they could not be donated to political parties or candidates, and had to be spent separately. What else was the SOPA Strike Wednesday but a political campaign, with Hollywood on one end trying to use the political system to do away with due process in order to reap more profits, and tech companies and grassroots citizen-activists on the other trying to prevent such a mockery of law? I’m not a legal expert, but it would appear to me that if Citizens United hadn’t been decided the way it were, and the McCain-Feingold Act was still in place, this campaign might not have gotten off the ground, or if it did, it might not have been as wildly successful as it was.

It’s Working: #StopSOPA Protests Make Senators Back Off

Most times, petitions, protests, and the like to seem to have very little effect. People protested against the Iraq War, but we went in. People protested against TARP and the bailouts, but we bailed them out anyways. People protested against Obamacare, and it was passed anyways.

Today is different.

Judging from the news I’ve been seeing, it appears that the SOPA Strike is having an appreciable effect. I’ve already noted that Sens. Rubio and Cornyn, two sponsors, have switched sides on the bill. Declan MuCullough over at CNet reports that there is even more antipathy than I previously thought:

Rep. John Carter, [R-Mars? -Ed.] a Texas Republican who is listed as a SOPA sponsor, “reserves judgment on the final bill,” a spokesman told CNET today. “He’s certainly not saying pass the bill as-is — there are legitimate concerns in this bill.” (See CNET’s FAQ on the topic.)

[…]

The home pages of Craigslist and Google feature exhortations to contact members of Congress and urge them to vote against the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate version called Protect IP. Amazon.com and Yahoo’s Flickr have also joined in. (Craiglist’s snarky note: “Corporate paymasters, KEEP THOSE CLAMMY HANDS OFF THE INTERNET!”)

New York senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats who are Protect IP sponsors, sent CNET a joint statement saying: “While the threat to tens of thousands of New York jobs due to online piracy is real and must be addressed, it must be done in a way that allows the Internet and our tech companies to continue to flourish.” They said they believe “both sides can come together on a solution that satisfies their respective concerns.”

BREAKING: #Wikipedia to go dark Wed to Protest #SOPA

It’s official, from The Hill:

Wikipedia will blackout on Wednesday to protest two controversial Internet piracy bills, founder Jimmy Wales announced on Twitter Monday.

“Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday,” Wales wrote.

The protest will apply only to the English version of the popular online encyclopedia and will last for 24 hours.

Wales estimated that the English Wikipedia receives about 25 million visits per day, but he said the site could receive even more visits during the blackout due to the publicity.

There you have it, folks. Now this protest actually will be effective. 25 million will see that Wikipedia is against SOPA, leading to 25 million who will also be against it. And that’s just a conservative estimate.

The Senate will vote on SOPA’s counterpart January 24. We need to let everyone in the Senate know how bad this bill is—and hopefully, with the weight of Wikipedia behind us, maybe they’ll sit up and take notice.

Wikipedia to go dark to protest #SOPA?

There are very few petitions that I think will actually do something. Usually, I simply don’t bother. Nobody reads them or listens to them. However, there are exceptions, and here is one of them.

Apparently, Wikipedia is considering going dark to protest the censorship monstrosities “Stop Online Piracy Act” and “Protect IP Act,” and DemandProgress has a petition website up where you can pledge to donate $1 if they do go dark, or simply sign a nonmonetary petition to do so. I have pledged the money, not only because I oppose SOPA, but also because I have used Wikipedia a lot over the years, and I would like to give back to that community.

We’ve been over why SOPA is a bad idea here many times. There are sincere technological problems with SOPA, along with political issues. It’s a cure that’s worse than the disease. The backers behind SOPA are pirates themselves. Wikipedia would also not be alone in this, if it does go through. All of these are reasons why we need to do something about this bill, and do it now.


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