Individual Liberties

Comedy or Tragedy?

I confess. Ever since the passage of healthcare-hell on March 21, I’ve been torn between the two conflicting extremes of despondency on the one hand, and hilarity on the other.

Thus, it’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote anything for this site, or even had an inkling to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were). And while I had some real-life situations interfering with writing – a death in the family, a particularly vicious and fatigue-inducing virus – for the most part I just couldn’t think of anything to say that wasn’t being said already and ad infinitum on every talk show and by every conservative pundit in the known world, and for the first time in a long time I found myself asking, “What’s the use?”

For a week I didn’t read anything online, including Mark Steyn’s columns, which for anyone who knows me well suggested symptoms of deep depression. I barely even glanced at the Wall Street Journal, again a sure sign of an impending retreat to recluse-land.

Being a Randian (Ayn Rand, that is) intellectual and philosopher of the first order, I figured now was as good a time as any to say to heck with freedom-fighting and do the John Galt thing:  Stay off the radar and watch the economy collapse. That is, after all, what Rand’s superman did through most of his fictional life before Mulligan established Galt’s Gulch. He worked as a track walker for Taggart Transcontinental at some hideous minimum wage, all the while developing his super-motor in a dilapidated tenement in New York City.

This Is Not The Time For Revolution

Since Obamacare was passed, tensions in this country have been running high. Congressmen, especially those who voted for the bill, have been targeted with vandalism and death threats. In turn, many radicals on the left have threatened conservative personalities, issuing their own death threats to Republican congressmen, and used the opportunity to condemn all Obama opponents as racists and fascists among other things. Honestly, we in the opposition have not condemned this violence enough and instead we have sought to change the focus towards things said by the left. In addition, our continued tolerance of such lunatics like Birthers and 9/11 Truthers lends credience to the smears of the left.

For those of you out there who think this is the time for revolution, please consider the following:

1) All political and legal options have not been exhausted. There are Congressional elections in November 2010 and Presidential elections in November 2012. Use this anger and energy to donate money and support candidates who support liberty and who will fix/repeal Obamacare. In addition, many states have filed lawsuits challenging Obamacare and those lawsuits need time to work their way through the courts.

2) The right to free speech and to petition grievances is still in effect. Obamacare opponents can still express their opposition views to the public. Such views are common place on talk radio, the Internet, the newspapers, and as a matter all over the place. Obamacare opponents are not being thrown in jail or being silenced by the state.

3) Obama and the Democrats did win the past two elections and have a mandate. Obama’s election victory in 2008 and the Democratic control of Congress by definition gives them the mandate to pass whatever legislation they want, as long as it is upheld as legal. That mandate can only be revoked by their electoral defeat in 2010 and 2012.

The U.S. Census and the U.S. Constitution

From the Declaration of Independence: “He [the present King of Great Britain] has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their substance.”

The above statement most certainly describes, with great accuracy, any number of agencies of the federal government, the Internal Revenue Service in particular. This year, it could well apply to the U.S. Census Bureau, in its campaign (what else could we call it?) to make sure that all of the people respond to the 2010 Census.

Today, I received in the mail a little postcard, with the following return address:

U.S. Department of Commerce
Economics and Statistics Administration
U.S. Census Bureau
8411 Kelso Drive
Essex, MD 21261-6666

On the front, just above the address, set apart by a rectangular box, was the the following statement: “Your response to the U.S. Census Bureau is required by law.” Oh!!!!! (Shudder!!!) Kennedy: Be afraid… be very afraid! You haven’t yet responded to the 2010 Census. They are going to get you!

On the back of the postcard is contained the following letter, dated March 22 (that’s yesterday… amazing, isn’t it, how quickly the U.S. Post Office delivers mail from the Washington, D.C. area when it is coming from the Census Bureau).

Dear Resident:

A few days ago, you should have received a request to participate in the 2010 Census. It was sent to your address as part of our effort to conduct the most accurate census possible.

It is important that you respond. If you have already provided your census information, please accept our sincere thanks. There is no need to provide your answers again. If you have not responded, please provide your information as soon as possible.

Who’s to blame

Denial. It’s not a river in Egypt.

Still, as President Obama and D.C.’s majority legislative leadership strain our belief in a rational governing and representative body, it’s difficult to deny that something has gone terribly awry.

Not to belabor a point so many have made over the last year – and in some cases, decade(s) - but these Democrats don’t seem so concerned with my ability to access affordable, adequate health care as they do their ability to decide without me just what exactly defines adequate, affordable and accessible care.

So I’d like to report that their collective voice raised so stridently on my behalf (declaring as they do my “right” to all the government largesse they propose to provide) no longer has the power to shock my libertarian sensibilities. Yet day after day I find myself wondering how these men and women, whose primary attribute seems to indicate an infinite willingness to pretend two and two equals zero, were ever elected in the first place.

And therein lies the rub.

The Alan Graysons, Nancy Pelosis, John Lewises, Charlie Rangels, Harry Reids and other idealogical heirs to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy were all elected by the people and for the people. We may not like what they’re doing but someone voted for them just as they did Obama.

How did it happen? Good question and one with a plethora of philosophical and political answers. But the most important reason is too close to home for comfort. Thus, we can continue to play the blame game, or we can stop denying the unpalatable truth.

Sarah Palin And The Obsession With Minutia, Or Something

I must admit that this is a subject I wanted to stay away from but the continuing “uproar” saddens me. I want to like Sarah Palin but she makes it hard sometimes . At some point she is going to have to stop playing the victim card and act like a big girl.

I heard the Rahm Emanuel “retard” comment before Palin responded to it (I actually agreed with him). But something told me somebody would say something. Somebody would be offended. Somebody would act like a speech Nazi. Somebody would express an opinion that would attack the natural right of free speech.

As a former member of the GOP I can remember getting into debate after debate with “lefty” Statists on the subject of language. I guess because of who I am and how I was brought up I feel like I have a right to speak my mind and if you’re the “political correct” type you can get over it (Being raised in NYC probably contributed a ‘lil as well). I am not offended by anything that comes out of somebody’s pie- hole. Many people say things that alarm me, but being offended is somehow being “hurt” by what is said. Ms. Palin kept referring to her “thick skin” on the campaign trail. Did it somehow disappear?

I’ve already heard other people make the point that Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck use the word “retard” on their shows and Sarah hasn’t criticized them. Blah, blah, that isn’t nearly the issue here. The fact that the “Right” is now acting like the language police leads me to believe I left the GOP at the right time.

Let me create a scenario for dear Sarah and see how she would handle it.

Why a Republican Resurgence is Good for Everybody

At the White House website, the biography of Bill Clinton illustrates the successes of his administration, most notably:

During the administration of William Jefferson Clinton, the U.S. enjoyed more peace and economic well being than at any time in its history.

It’s true. The Clinton years were some of the most prosperous years that the United States has ever seen. Was that the result of massive government spending and initiatives? Of course not. Clinton’s first major initiative - health care reform - failed, resulting in a Republican takeover of Congress and Clinton shifting to rhetoric such as ”the era of big government is over.”

The actual successes of the Clinton years were very right wing ones - welfare reform, free trade agreements and a robust innovative economy fueled by the ingenuity of software entrepreneurs. Spending was down, and Bill Clinton left office with a huge surplus. This was certainly the result of a lack of spending from the federal government, a foreseeable result of having two diametrically opposed political parties in power at once. The fact that the low-spending Clinton years (years in which the government actually shut down for nearly two months) resulted in economic prosperity, while high deficit eras like the pre-war terms of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Bush-Obama years resulted in depression and recession, makes one of the strongest cases for libertarianism.

Legislator Wishes To Suspend Civil Liberties To Show He’s “Tough On Crime”

This week, I caught a story on the Atlanta news that immediately drew my attention.  A state Representative, MY state Representative, will introduce a bill during the next legislative session that requires every suspect arrested of a felony to submit to a DNA sample.  Without careful examination, along with a very friendly news report about the bill, this does not strike many everyday citizens as a “bad thing,” as seen in the first comment made about the story.

There is No Police Like Holmes: Sherlock Holmes, Libertarian Hero.

Free Market Justice by Gaslight.

It is axiomatic that whatever the state can do the private sector can do better, and this lesson is rarely illustrated better in literature than in the stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  As it was said by Doyle’s brother-in-law E.W. Hornung, there is no police like Holmes.  With the new Sherlock Holmes movie set to be released on Christmas day, we will no doubt see a resurgence of interest in the original Sherlock Holmes stories, movies and television programs.  Viewers and fans would do well to note the prevalent anti-state themes that course through these stories like the famous cocaine through the veins of Holmes himself.

The relationship between Holmes and the official London police force showed the marked contrast between a skilled master and a team of public investigators usually barely maintaining the status quo at least a few steps behind the criminals.  Scotland Yard reeked of a smug incompetence that amused Holmes, even as he gave them the credit in most cases.  They were frequently on the wrong path, lecturing Holmes about him wasting time chasing his fancy theories which ended up being correct.  While Inspector Lestrade and the rest were so easily duped by the scheming criminals, Holmes did what the police should have done, what they were getting paid tax payer money to do.  In “The Case of the Red Circle” we even see that a constable on duty at a murder scene is easily manipulated by a housewife.  Like so many other instances in real life, the private market yielded results where the public option brought errors, gridlock and confusion.

WaPo Op-Ed Writer Exposes Problems With Government-Run Anything

Last Sunday the Washington Post ran an op-ed from Maggie Mahar, health care fellow for the left-wing think tank The Century Foundation.  Her concern?  That eventually a conservative Republican administration running a government health insurance option or, worse, a single-payer system, might shut off access to abortion, end-of-life care, birth control, or fertility treatments.

Mahar has, perhaps unwittingly, revealed the problem with having government run anything.  Depending on government for anything means depending on whomever is running that government.  Administrations, Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress (though not often enough), and budget priorities change.  Too many people think only of the here and now when considering the greater implications of policies, but they should be thinking longer-term.

Before ceding any power to government (especially the federal government), just ask yourself one question:  Would I trust my greatest political enemy with this power?  There are some exceptions to this rule (only government can provide national security, raise a military, etc.), but consider longer-term implications to any policy being proposed.  If you don’t trust Democrats with the power to use surveillance on the American people, then don’t give that power to a Republican administration and Congress.  Likewise, if you don’t trust Republicans to run health care to your liking, don’t give a Democrat administration and Congress the power to run your health care.

Me?  This is why I don’t trust government with, well, any of it.  In the words of John Galt, leave me the hell alone!

My Townhall Experience

After attending several Atlanta area health care town hall forums sponsored by legislators in support of HR 3200, I decided to participate in one hosted by MY Congressman, Representative Phil Gingrey (R-GA, 11th). I should note that I did not vote for or against Dr. Gingrey in 2008, as I lived in Georgia’s 13th Congressional District then. The convenience of the location of August 31st’s event could not have been better, unless it took place in my living room (the Cobb Civic Center is across the street from my neighborhood), however a 5:30 PM start time made it difficult for many constituents to attend.

Town Hall Atendee

I arrived at the Civic Center shortly after 5 PM to find a parking lot approximately half-full, some cars present as early as 3:30 PM. Outside the venue, there were a few individuals and groups handing literature to those entering, including members of GOP gubernatorial candidate, John Oxendine’s You Can Stop ObamaCare. I expected police-enforced restrictions that I encountered at previous town hall events, so my only tool to capture and share media of the event was my cell phone.

Once inside, I noted many of Rep. Gingrey’s older constituents in attendance, as I expected from reports of his previous forums on the subject. I also expected that most in attendance would be opposed to the health care reform bill known as HR 3200, also known as “ObamaCare,” like their Congressman, Rep. Gingrey. There were a handful of

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