With Romney’s win Tuesday in New Hampshire, the first Republican non-incumbent to win both Iowa and the Granite State since 1976, some are saying that the primary battle is essentially over, while President Obama has “locked-in” on Romney as his opponent. I don’t need to be the one to tell you how bad this is for liberty, and how bad it is for just elections overall.
In effect, we’re going to have a choice between a Wall St. financied big business candidate who has no good record on civil liberties and created a massive government health insurance boondoggle against…the exact same thing.
Glenn Greenwald wrote an absolutely fantastic piece on New Year’s Eve about Ron Paul and how the Texas Representative is challenging progressives and liberals to take a harder look at Obama, which may not be what they want to do. In particular, Greenwald had this gem:
The thing I loathe most about election season is reflected in the central fallacy that drives progressive discussion the minute “Ron Paul” is mentioned. As soon as his candidacy is discussed, progressives will reflexively point to a slew of positions he holds that are anathema to liberalism and odious in their own right and then say: how can you support someone who holds this awful, destructive position? The premise here — the game that’s being played — is that if you can identify some heinous views that a certain candidate holds, then it means they are beyond the pale, that no Decent Person should even consider praising any part of their candidacy.
The PJ Tatler reports that Marin, Calif., is considering a sweeping smoking ban that would prohibit cigarette smoking not only in public places but also in rented private residences. The Tatler takes exception to the ordinance itself, which it calls “Progressive totalitarianism,” but also to the fact that the ordinance was sent back for revision because it didn’t make clear that marijuana smoking was excluded from the ban. The Tatler insists that this is all indicative of a liberal (or, if you prefer, progressive) mindset that makes liberals prone to banning politically incorrect tobacco smoke but unwilling to ban “hip, politically approved second-hand marijuana smoke,” which the Tatler calls “equally dangerous.”
Let’s dispense with the easy argument first. There is absolutely no evidence that inhaling secondhand marijuana smoke is “equally dangerous” as inhaling secondhand tobacco smoke. The Tatler offers a link to a Harvard Law website that details the medical dangers of marijuana use, but the studies included all dealt with firsthand use rather than secondhand exposure. Moreover, recently released results from a UC San Francisco study found that smoking a marijuana joint per day over the course of seven years doesn’t hurt lung function — in fact, some showed improvements in their lung function. And that’s firsthand users. It’s hard to imagine that secondhand exposure could be more dangerous.
Going off of my colleague Ron Davis’ post about technological reasons to oppose that monstrosity known as SOPA (and it’s Senate twin, PIPA), here are a couple of news stories from earlier in the month to share with you. I am a bit late on these, I admit, but I want to place them here just to show how ineffectual SOPA will actually be.
The first “solution” will probably fail and end in misery and a fireball, but you have to give some credit to these guys: a group of hackers want to send up a satellite that will act as an independent file-sharing server, a sort of space age Sealand:
The scheme was outlined at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.
The project’s organisers said the Hackerspace Global Grid will also involve developing a grid of ground stations to track and communicate with the satellites.
Longer term they hope to help put an amateur astronaut on the moon.
Hobbyists have already put a few small satellites into orbit - usually only for brief periods of time - but tracking the devices has proved difficult for low-budget projects.
The hacker activist Nick Farr first put out calls for people to contribute to the project in August. He said that the increasing threat of internet censorship had motivated the project.
“The first goal is an uncensorable internet in space. Let’s take the internet out of the control of terrestrial entities,” Mr Farr said.
He cited the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) in the United States as an example of the kind of threat facing online freedom. If passed, the act would allow for some sites to be blocked on copyright grounds.
Cato Unbound’s new January 2012 edition is on the effects of drone warfare and the implications for future American policy. (For those of you unaware, Cato Unbound is run by the Cato Institute, and is a scholarly project that solicits papers from academics and intellectuals on a monthly theme. Scholar A will write a lead essay, the other scholars respond, and then there’s a conversation. It’s sort of like a presidential debate, only intelligent.)
The lead writer for this month is David Cortright, Director of Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. (Try saying that five times fast.) He argues that having drone weapons increases the likelihood that political leaders will start conflicts, because they’re easy to use:
The rise of drone warfare has stirred strong passions and sparked a vigorous debate about the morality of unmanned weapons systems. The first and most important question is whether drone technology makes war more likely. Are decisionmakers more prone to employ military force if they have accurate weapons that are easier to use and do not risk the lives of their service members? The use of these weapons creates the false impression that war can be fought cheaply and at lower risk. They transform the very meaning of war from an act of national sacrifice and mobilization to a distant almost unnoticeable process of robotic strikes against a secretive “kill list.” Do these factors lower the political threshold for going to war?
Libertarians’ aim is to maximize personal and inter-personal liberty. Nationally. Globally.
Freedom is the great coagulant- the way water molecules hold together drops of rain. Ironically, libertarianist philosophy is arguably the oldest of all American currents of thought: originating during the colonial Enlightenment Generation, when the old was still new enough to be considered current, but the United States was forming itself; becoming one in thought and deed.
Libertarianism existed in the minds of our colonial forefathers even before the ideas of a nation were enumerated, before they were disclaimed. Despite regional differences, colonists belonged to a place, a town maybe or an intersection. No matter what, each first and foremost belonged to himself.
The Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican ‘party’ was afflicted by and proposed along the lines of British, French, German and colonial thinking. What resulted was libertarianism. A sense of freedom given to the individual, by each own’s God. Without mediation, without government, without boundaries. Unique unto each.
Three centuries into the newly formed United States, citizens vote on the basis of who will win elections. Examples of voting extend to such extremes, that we are left with no alternative than to chose between an awful and a terrible party. While many in media and political networks might well believe that third parties are superfluous, and dangerous philosophically, it is the true patriot; who must see through the distortions and blatant lies- three centuries in the making.
I was looking through the comments on some of our posts, and I came across an interesting one on one of Jason’s entries. The article Jason wrote was “Ron Paul may not win, but his influence will be lasting,” and the comment in question was from a Jill. Q, who wrote (and here I am copypasting everything):
[T]here’s something weird going on when Paul, the small-government constitutionalist, is considered the extremist in the Republican Party…”
He’s not my idea of a “small government” anything. Ron Paul opposed the supreme court’s 2003 landmark decision on gay rights, Lawrence v. Texas. He said that it was an infringement on states rights to tell them that they can’t ban homosexuality.
Do you agree? Is this your idea of “liberty”, Jason? If it is, go ahead and vote for Ron Paul.
“Under those amendments, the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards. But rather than applying the real Constitution and declining jurisdiction over a properly state matter, the Court decided to apply the imaginary Constitution and impose its vision on the people of Texas.”
I think this is actually a good point to make, and I want to take it as an opportunity to discuss some ideas about negative and positive liberty and what I think about them as well.
First, a clarification: I don’t think anyone here considers Ron Paul to be the best, in terms of doctrinal purity, libertarian, but he is certainly a standard bearer, and has definitely put the movement “out there.” So we look to him as someone who is great for messaging libertarianism to others, but not necessarily the “best” libertarian. I think most of us here would prefer if Gary Johnson was in Paul’s place on that front.
President Obama signed on Saturday the defense authorization bill, formally ending weeks of heated debate in Congress and intense lobbying by the administration to strip controversial provisions requiring the transfer of some terror suspects to military custody.
“I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists,” Obama said in a statement accompanying his signature.
The White House had originally threatened to veto the $662 billion bill, considered must-pass legislation, over the language that requires mandatory military custody for suspects linked to al-Qaida or its affiliates, even if they are captured in the U.S. Just before the House and Senate passed the bill comfortably, the White House said it would support the bill’s compromise language that, as tweaked by conference committee, would not impede the administration’s ability to collect intelligence or incapacitate dangerous terrorists.
Still, administration officials have admitted publicly the final provisions were not the preferred approach of this administration.
You know, if you have “serious reservations” about a bill, the sensible thing to do would be to veto it. That’s why the veto power was given to the president in the first place! For a constitutional scholar, Mr. Obama doesn’t seem to know very much about the constitution is quite knowledgeable and sincere about the power of the presidency and the required performance of the United States federal government through the authority vested in the Constitution. Have a good day.
[Article sweeped of unpatriotic sentiment at 6:48PM 12/31/2011. Move along, citizen.]
I noted earlier that Gary Johnson will be leaving the Republican primary and instead seek the Libertarian nomination. There is, potentially, one major obstacle in his way, noted at the very end of the Politico piece I quoted:
Libertarians, who were on the ballot in 45 states, are aiming to be on the ballot in all 50 for 2012. One problem Johnson could face is so called “sore loser” laws that will keep him from appearing as a third party candidate next November because he’s already on the GOP primary ballots in Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan and Missouri.
This invariably brings up the question, “What is a ‘sore-loser’ law?”
The short answer: a most detestable and rank piece of undemocratic filth, which has no place in our country.
The long answer: a sore-loser law is a law the prevents someone who either lost a primary or later quit a primary from running as either a minor party candidate or as an independent candidate.
As you can imagine, this goes a long way towards keeping out alternative voices in American elections. And you have to ask yourself: what is the point? Why do we need a law prohibiting people from exercising their right to run for office? Here’s how politicians would say it, when Charlie Crist ran from the GOP to run as an independent for Senate in 2010:
Some folks over at MTV better lock up their doors, because a couple of videos they just created (EDIT: Apparently, these videos are old, but they are still incredibly relevant to what’s going on right now. Thanks, northnodes.) are making a very interesting argument about the National Defense Authorization Act, and I doubt that will keep them in the government’s good graces.
There’s the old Internet rule called “Godwin’s Law,” but after seeing what our government is trying to do, I’m not convinced anyone should ever bring it up.
On one hand, we have SOPA threatening to remove our internet access if we so merely link to a music video, and on the other, we have the NDAA threatening to lock us up on the whims of some government bureaucrat. Between them? Well, no it’s not that dwindling area of freedom, its the Transportation Security Administration, conducting its campaign of government sponsored sexual molestation at our nation’s airports.