civil liberties

Conor Friedersdorf explains why he’s not voting for Obama

If you don’t read anything else today, you need to check out Conor Friedersdorf’s explanation of why he refuses to vote for Barack Obama in November:

I find Obama likable when I see him on TV. He is a caring husband and father, a thoughtful speaker, and possessed of an inspirational biography. On stage, as he smiles into the camera, using words to evoke some of the best sentiments within us, it’s hard to believe certain facts about him:

Learn Liberty: Is Money Speech?

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Obama Administration backing NDAA’s indefinite detention provision in court

Barack Obama

Last year, the Congress created quite a firestorm with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contained a provision that would allow for the indefinite detention of anyone merely suspected of terrorist activities, including American citizens. President Barack Obama issued a veto threat, which was strange given that the White House asked for the provision, but eventually backed off.

In May, a federal judge shot down the the NDAA because of the impact it could have on the First Amendment — you know, that fundamental civil liberty for which President Obama seems to have little regard. The Obama Administration is, of course, fighting the ruling in court because, as Lucy Steigerwald explains, not having the ability to detain people without formal charges for the entirety of an open-ended “war on terror” would hurt the United States.

Ben Swann, a Cincinnati-based news anchor, recently asked President Obama about his support of the indefinite detention provision. President Obama does explain that in signing statement he promised not to use the power to detain United States citizens. Of course, that doesn’t stop a later administration from using the provision how they see fit.

Democrats no longer fighting for civil liberties

Democratic Party Platform Civil Liberties

There has been an image going around on new media sites recently noting that the language supporting civil liberties in the 2008 Democratic Party platform — including specific lines calling for revisiting the PATRIOT Act, reining in executive power, and the surveillance state — is now missing from the current platform. Christina Lopes and Tom Knighton have already noted civil liberties have fallen to the side, and the frustration from advocates of the issue toward President Barack Obama.

In yesterday’s Cato Daily Podcast, Caleb Brown chatted with Julian Sanchez about the omission of civil liberties from the Democratic Party’s platform, President Obama’s record on the issue, and the silence from many of those who previous called for curtailing government overreach on civil liberties:

Breitbart Blogger Takes Swing At Gary Johnson, Misses Completely

Gary Johnson

William Bigelow, a blogger at Big Government, one of the many websites that is part of the “Breitbart” media empire that continues to apparently flourish after Andrew Breitbart’s death in March, has taken the trouble of coming up with a list of reasons why Republicans shouldn’t vote for Gary Johnson.

As an opening point, I should probably say that on some level Bigelow is correct. If you are truly a Republican, as in being someone who is committed to the success of the Republican Party regardless of the fact that it remains, at its core, a party devoted to expanding the power of the state, then you obviously shouldn’t vote for Gary Johnson. Governor Johnson, though he was once a member of the Republican Party, stands against everything your party exists to perpetuate whether it’s the continued expansion of unchecked Executive Branch power, subsidies via the tax code and other methods to favored industries, or an interventionist foreign policy the foolishness of which was aptly demonstrated during the Presidency of George W. Bush. If you truly believe all of these things are good things, then go ahead and vote for Mitt Romney because you can be sure that, in the increasingly unlikely possibility that he’s elected in November, he will continue all of those polices. Heck, he’s already promised increase the defense budget by $2,000,000,000,000 over a ten year period!

However, I think in his use of “Republicans,” Bigelow really means conservatives and Tea Party supporters, which makes his arguments against Johnson all the more interesting. Let’s examine each one of them in turn.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Vote for Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson

Note: This is part three of a three-part series covering some reasons that a voter may choose to support a specific presidential candidate. Part 1 for Mitt Romney is available here, and part 2 for Barack Obama is available here.

You might not know it by watching the talking heads on the news, but there are actually more candidates on the presidential ballot this year than just Romney and Obama. This year the Libertarian Party will have Gary Johnson on the ballot.

Like the other parties, the Libertarians don’t always get excellent candidates on their ballots, but Gary Johnson is actually an excellent candidate for their platform. He’s a former (Republican) governor of New Mexico with an excellent track record for cutting unnecessary layers of government. Like the other candidates, there are pros and cons for supporting Johnson. Here are a few reasons you might want to support Johnson in 2012.

You like freedom and want more of it.

When it comes to individual liberty, there’s no question at all who the best candidate on the ballot is. Johnson is a perfect example of the Libertarian’s stance on individual liberty, and there’s little doubt that he’d advance individual liberty if he were president.

You believe we need a balanced federal budget.

Rand Paul: Fahrenheit 451 and the Flame of Liberty

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A Grand Bargain on Social Issues

Simpsons -- Gay Marriage

Last week, my colleague Brian Lehman wrote a great post on gay marriage, offering up a deal for social conservatives in order to ease some of the tension over it. I would like to sweeten the pot, a bit, if that’s possible.

For a long time, we’ve had the right and left wings in this country ignore the pressing issues of our time—crushing debt, a horribly mangled tax code, an economy infested with out of control cronyism and regulation, a monetary system that isn’t working, dismantled civil liberties, and looming entitlements that threaten to wash away all of our prosperity in a megatsunami of unfunded liabilities—to focus instead on issues such as gay marriage, abortion, Islamic mosques, and whether or not Barack Obama is a neo-marxist anti-colonialist Kenyan who wasn’t born in the United States (and ate a dog in Indonesia when he was five.) Oh, and Chick-Fil-A.

Because of this more important things we should be focusing on, and because we need to do something about them today, I would like to put forward a “grand bargain” of sorts between conservatives and liberals, so we can put the social issues conflict to rest. It basically involves a trade, and while I know nobody is going to be 100% happy with it, I think it will lead to overall better happiness. (Paging Jeremy Bentham.)

The bargain is such: in exchange for conservatives dropping opposition to same-sex marriage, liberals will tone down their crusade for abortion.

Thinking of a progressive-libertarian alliance? Think again…

Selfish libertarians

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had an interesting discussion about conservative-libertarian fusionism. Jeremy Kolassa has written a couple of excellent posts about the issue, which you can read here and here. My rebuttal to Jeremy’s original post can be found here.

It seems as though we agree that libertarians will, at times, need to reach out to conservatives on issues where we have common ground. Jeremy’s broader point, and he’ll correct me if I’m wrong, is that we, as libertarians, need to make sure we have a separate identity, one that clearly delineates us from conservatives. For what it’s worth, I don’t really disagree.

There is no denying that the run up CPAC 2012 hurt whatever unspoken alliance that conservatives and libertarians have. It was clear, that after libertarian influence on the event in the two prior years, that we were not welcome at CPAC in 2012. Unfortunately, GOProud was also given the cold shoulder by social conservatives, many of whom threatened to boycott the event if the gay Republican group were allowed to continue sponsoring it.

Conor Friedersdorf takes down arguments for a military draft

There hasn’t been a lot of outrage, at least from what I’ve read, from the right or left on Thomas Ricks recent call to bring back the military draft. Perhaps the story just isn’t out there enough for people to take notice, or maybe it’s because the anti-draft sentiment is limited in nature.

Ricks’ premise is much like that of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), who has introduced “national service” legislation in each of the last several Congresses, is that in order to prevent war, the federal government must force able adults out of high school to serve in the military. This would include the children of politicians and the wealthy. Working to alter the United States incredibly misguided foreign policy is apparently not enough, the federal government must DRAFT ALL THE KIDS!

As I explained yesterday, this is a terrible idea, but over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf completely tears apart Ricks’ arguments, though from a practical perspective, better than anyone else who has written on the subject:

Let me get this straight. Presuming that these 18 months of conscription don’t affect college plans, except to delay them for two years, its effect will basically be to shift two years of a person’s working life from whatever they spend their career doing to menial labor compensated at below market rates (sorry, everyone who presently does those jobs to feed their families!).

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