Graham: “No Confirmation Without Information”

On Sunday’s Face the Nation, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he will attempt to block Obama’s nominations of both John Brennan to CIA Director and Chuck Hagel to Defense Secretary over the Obama Administration’s failures in Benghazi.  As it is Bob Schieffer’s job to “wring news out of his guests,” Graham, emerging as the new head of the Neocon Right, certainly obliged.

The full transcript is here, video is here, and key moments from the exchange are as follows:

GRAHAM: “I don’t think we should allow Brennan to go for forward the CIA directorship, Hagel to be confirmed for secretary of defense, until the White House gives us an accounting. Did the president ever pick up the phone and call anyone in the Libyan government to help these folks? What did the president do? …What did he do that night? That’s not unfair. The families need to know. The American people need to know…”

SCHIEFFER: “But let me — I’m not sure I understand. What do you plan to do if they don’t give you an answer? Are you going to put a hold on these two nominations?”

Drone Strikes: Questionably Legal, Certainly Not Ethical, and Most Unwise

Above, watch Obama Administration Press Secretary Jay Carney explain that the drone strikes are “legal”, “ethical”, and “wise.” This has got to be one the biggest loads of crap I have heard since Obama was elected in 2008.

The legality of these drone strikes is highly questionable, as Doug Mataconis notes over at OTB. I fully expect court challenges to these strikes. Whether or not they succeed is a matter of speculation for people far more trained in the arcane arts of the law than I.

They are certainly not ethical. There have always been deep ethical qualms about killing human beings. In the modern era, we have notions such as due process, trials, courts of appeal, and judicial oversight, as well as punishment for those who kill wrongly. In combat situations, we accept homicide as par for the course, with both sides shooting at each other to kill. But this is not the same situation. This is picking an individual and raining missiles on him via robot death kites. This is not war. This is assassination. There are no restraints nor oversight. If you have a code of ethics that allows you to just kill people, on a whim, without any restraint whatsoever, you are a deeply troubled person and should be committed to a mental hospital. When will Obama go?

They are most definitely not wise. If anything, the drone strikes have only hardened al-Qaeda against us, and have turned us into enemies to the locals there, killing and maiming at will. Is it wise to “double-tap” targets and blow up emergency responders? Is it wise when only one in fifty of our victims are actually bad guys? No, this is not wise. This is most certainly unwise.

Bobby Jindal Sandblasts the GOP: Thank God, Finally

Bobby Jindal

Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake of the Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog—arguably one of the best blogs about politics today—have gotten a copy of Bobby Jindal’s speech to the RNC this Thursday. It looks like it will be a well-needed tongue-lasher:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will deliver a forceful denunciation of his party’s Washington-centric focus in a speech to the Republican National Committee on Thursday evening, arguing that the GOP is fighting the wrong fight as it seeks to rebuild from losses at the ballot box last November.

“A debate about which party can better manage the federal government is a very small and short-sighted debate,” Jindal will tell the RNC members gathered in Charlotte, N.C. for the organization’s winter meeting, according to a copy of the speech provided to The Fix. “If our vision is not bigger than that, we do not deserve to win.”

Jindal’s speech — and his call to “recalibrate the compass of conservatism” — is the latest shred of a growing amount of evidence that the Louisiana governor is positioning himself to not only run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 but do so in direct (or close to it) opposition to his party in the nation’s capital.

In the speech, Jindal will repeatedly caution that Republicans in Washington have fallen into the “sideshow trap” of debating with Democrats over the proper size of the federal government.

Americans Should Not Take Sides in Palestine


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.

Condi Rice Tells Compelling Story

She may have made mistakes as Secretary of State, and her foreign policy is too neoconservative, but one can not deny that this is an incredible speech. I attended in person, and you could have heard a pin drop as the crowd carefully listened to every word about how she went from being unable to eat at a diner as a child to becoming the Secretary of State.

Watch below:

Watch below:

Why Paul Ryan is bad for libertarianism

Paul Ryan

By now most have given their opinion of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate. In all of the commentary I have noticed a disturbing trend: grassroots conservatives and some libertarians think there is an upside to the pick.

Most notably for me is Corie Whalen’s praise of Romney’s pick as “victory…on an intellectual level.” Corie’s view is that the Paul Ryan post-VP pick contrasts that of the other Paul Ryan, with the former being more libertarian-ish than the latter. Her theory - and it sounds nice - is that Congressman Ryan will sow the seeds of a more libertarian populace by introducing and articulating certain ideas more favorable to free markets and sensible fiscal policy. She goes on to admit that Ryan’s voting record during his tenure in congress has been anything but libertarian.

I’m used to people falling for a candidate’s rhetoric without actually analyzing their record, but to have someone admit that a candidate’s record is abhorrent yet praise them for their rhetoric is…strange. But does Corie have a point? His record aside, is Paul Ryan’s rhetoric good for libertarianism?

No even close, because libertarianism at its heart is anti-rhetoric. Libertarianism concerns itself with actions not words. Libertarianism rejects politics as usual in favor of principled representatives who will walk the walk. Paul Ryan can talk a pretty talk, but he does not have the record to match his rhetoric.

When people become enamored purely with rhetoric they place inadequate stock into actions. Until this trend is reversed, politicians will continue to contort themselves to fit the need and say whatever it takes to get elected; until this behavior is rejected by the populace, libertarianism will not flourish.

Gallup: Majority of Americans are down with an Atheist President

Wait, WHAT? It was a total shock to me, but apparently, 54% of Americans are cool with an atheist president. Via Allahpundit at Hot Air:


I’ve blogged a bunch of these Gallup polls over the years and my demographic has always been at the bottom of the barrel preference-wise. But things are improving: In 2007, just 45 percent said they’d vote for an atheist, then last year it crept up to 49 percent. Now we’re over the hump at 54. I wonder why. It’s not like the “new atheism” suddenly exploded onto the national scene over the past six months, and to hear believers tell it, the new atheism is more likely to alienate people than persuade them. Maybe, maybe not. What you’re seeing here, I think, is the fruit of normalization: It’s not so much that people are becoming more sympathetic to atheism (although that might be true) than that, as atheists become more visible culturally, people see for themselves that we’re not that weird or threatening. Acceptance of gays works along the same lines, of course, except that they’re further along than we are. For a vivid illustration of that, follow the Gallup link up top and check out the breakdown among different age groups. Young adults react to gays and atheists similarly; older adults, not so much. Note the trendlines in the table I posted above, too. Thirty-five years ago, atheists held a double-digit lead on this question over gays. Today, the opposite is true.

Mitt Romney: The Reason Ron Paul Supporters Still Dream

If there’s one thing that can be said for the national GOP leadership, it wouldn’t be that it has fully considered the long-term ramifications of its current predicament. Consider the “presumed” nominee this election cycle, one Willard “Mitt” Romney. Formerly a liberal Republican when it suited him in Massachusetts, the wily politician is hoping that eight years in absentia from holding office and growing distrust of our current President will propel him to the highest office; all without having to stand tall on any conservative meat and potato issue.

The last time a Republican won with this strategy, it was a squeaker of an election. Eight years of Clinton fatigue made even some democrats weary (a mathematical necessity if any Republican can expect to win the Presidency)..

Consider that Dubya in 2000 at least threw a bone to anti-war liberals and conservatives by claiming he would institute a humble foreign policy and eschew the nation-building that had ended so tragically for our former allies in Serbia ( ironically the US sided with extremist Muslim groups tied to Osama bin Laden ) and our troops in Somalia. In fact, it was this particular stand that may have solidified conservative support for Bush and some moderate anti-war liberals.

To add a bit of intrigue into the mix, Ralph Nader decided to run on the Green Party ticket splitting some of the anti-war left away from Gore and Bush resulting in a nail-biting affair that left most astute watchers with a bad taste in their mouth. It was not pretty watching weeks of hanging chad on TV and ugly legal challenges to election results that left the real outcome in doubt.

Washington Should Listen to JFK

kennedy_portrait“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

The famous line, uttered by our nation’s only Catholic president on a cold January day in 1961, is often used by liberals and conservatives alike as rallying cry for public service…and larger government. Citizens should sacrifice, it is said, for the greater welfare of their nation and fellow countrymen, and the government should be there as a parent to watch over us. The great Milton Friedman wrote in the introduction to his 1962 edition of Capitalism and Freedom (h/t Michael Cannon of Cato):

Everything Wrong With The Libertarian Movement, Part 4: Foreign Policy

In my previous posts, I’ve been writing about the problems libertarianism has today, the difficulties it has trying to work with the American public. First, I talked about rhetoric. Then, I wrote about intellectual property rights. Third, I devoted some time to anarcho-capitalism. Now, in what I plan on being my last post in this series (until and unless a new topic arises that warrants my attention; feel free to send suggestions) I want to focus on foreign policy, and how libertarianism, so far, has been fairly inadequate.

There seem to be two chief positions in the libertarian movement on foreign policy. The first is the view taken by Robert Higgs, who wrote in The Independent Review (from the Independent Institute) last fall that “Warmongering libertarians are ipso facto not libertarians.” In the other corner lies neolibertarians like Jon Henke and* people like Eric Dondero, who wrote on our blog, in a comment, that:

When you say “less aggressive foreign policy,” what you really mean to say is “more girly-manish foreign policy,” or cowardness, or just downright surrendertarianism.

These two extremes, honestly, do not have any place in the libertarian movement. While I agree with Higgs that “war is the health of the state,” and the half-century has shown that this government is largely incompetent when it comes to defending us abroad and we shouldn’t be involved in these expeditions, we cannot completely pull back and have a pacificst foreign policy. War is inevitable; it happens, sometimes by people who don’t like us. And sometimes, there are justifications for executing operations in foreign countries.

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.