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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Number of the Day


658,231

That's the number of people arrested for simple possession of marijuana in the U.S. in 2012, according to the recently released FBI crime stats.

Two-thirds of a million people who were put in jail for something that's relatively safe to use, not dangerous to others (barring the black market of supply created by its illegality), and presently legal in two of the fifty states (18 if you count medical).

That's over 650-thousand new "patients" being "referred" to drug and alcohol treatment facilities. The number of people put in jail for imbibing a plant is larger than entire the population of Vermont or Wyoming.

The number of people who's job applications will be haunted with criminal charges for the next seven to ten years, at least, is larger than the populations of all but the 19 largest cities -- larger than the populations of Boston, Seattle, Denver, Portland, Ore. and Washington D.C.

This is the prohibition your government is pursuing despite your majority opinion. Any questions?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Silencing the People

Don't be fooled by the hopeful wording of the following quote from USA Today:
The Senate Judiciary Committee, on a 13-5 vote, approved the federal Free Flow of Information Act and sent it to the Senate floor. The measure has long been sought by journalism organizations and First Amendment advocates to protect reporters from having to choose between breaking a promise to a source and going to jail.
Why would this seemingly-positive development be cause for concern? Well, because:
Under the committee's compromise, those covered would include someone who has had an employment relationship with a journalism organization for one year within the past 20 years, or three months within the past five years. Also covered are people with "a substantial track record of freelancing" in the past five years and student journalists. 
Significantly, the measure also includes a provision covering those who a federal judge decides "should be able to avail him or herself of the protections of the privilege, consistent with the interests of justice and the protection of lawful and legitimate newsgathering activities."
In other words, this bill, if passed, would grant a new power to the federal courts -- the power to determine who is and who isn't "press." And since the press is protected by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, this bill effectively give the federal government the power to decide who qualifies for a constitutionally protected civil right.

MF applauds attempts to provide greater protection for journalists, especially under an administration that has been as hard as any on whistleblowers, but granting this type of power to the federal government is not the way to go about it.

The freedom of speech and of the press exists because, without it, the people have no way of bringing to light violations of any of the subsequent protections under the Bill of Rights. In essence, this makes this civil right the most important, for violations of the other civil rights cannot be addressed if the public is ignorant of them.

It should come as no surprise that organizations like the Newspaper Association of America support the bill, since it's members are included under the bill's journalist requirements (and not potential grassroots competitors). But members of the news reporting community should be in the unique position to be aware of what such a deal with the devil might lead to.

Once the government has the power, they are all but guaranteed to use it.

All it would take is some "crisis," some distraction, which are seemingly plentiful in the post-9/11 world, for "revisions" to be made to the requirements for one to be considered a journalist. If this bill passes, what's to stop the implementation of a journalist licensing regimen?

The fault of letting the powerful decide who is allowed to observe them exercising power is self-evident, but one need only look to numerous examples throughout history to see such an idea's folly. Time and again, when a dictatorship takes power, the first major action is to silence the critics.

When you silence the press, you silence the people. And that's what's going on here, despite how nobly the bill is being presented.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Libertarianism is the Now

Politico ran a story yesterday about the continuing ascent of libertarianism in the mainstream of politics. These types of articles have been running for a while now, but for once, those of us who have sanely and consistently argued for greater individual liberty can have a reason to be hopeful.

For once, libertarians were not conflated with the Tea Party.
Libertarianism is what most Americans believe, whether they know it by that name or not.

And for once, this poll asked the question that prevents misunderstandings about what libertarianism really consists of. As politico reports, sizable portions simply do not know what the word libertarian means:
The poll surveyed all voters, not just those on the right, and overall 27 percent said they didn’t know enough to offer an opinion of libertarianism. About 40 percent of 18-to-32-year-olds view the word “libertarian” favorably, although about a third don’t know what it means.
You can't blame them, really.

The "l" word has been batted around by everyone from Glenn Beck to Bill Maher, and while I admit that at times both of these guys have expressed libertarian sentiment on some issues, calling oneself a libertarian on this issue or that, while simultaneously expressing more clearly authoritarian views, leaves the observer confused as to what "libertarian" really means.

That's why I was hopeful when I read this Politico article, because:
Told that libertarians generally believe individuals should be free to do as they like as long as they don’t hurt others and that the government should keep out of people’s day-to-day lives, 58 percent of the full national sample said they agree.
Once you are willing to express libertarianism in the basic, common-sense foundations that support the idea, it's actually not too unfamiliar. And a clear, nearly-fillibuster-proof majority of Americans support this concept; that people should be left to their own devices so long as they don't hurt others.

In other words, and like I've always suspected: libertarianism is what most Americans believe, whether they know it by that name or not.

P.S. The article is based on a poll conducted by FreedomWorks , which, although officially listed as a conservative/libertarian think tank, appears to have asked clear and impartial questions as evidenced by the linked report. By all fair measures, I don't have any reason to think this is some sort of libertarian-boosting push-poll.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Syrian Rebels Are Not The Friends We're Looking For

Just in case you had any doubts about the Syrian rebel groups that Obama is pushing us to assist, here's a quaint story of religious persecution at the hands of the "freedom fighters."

From CTV News:
AMMAN, Jordan -- Rebels including al-Qaida-linked fighters gained control of a Christian village northeast of the capital Damascus, Syrian activists said Sunday.

(...)

A Maaloula resident said the rebels, many of them sporting beards and shouting Allahu Akbar, or God is great, attacked Christian homes and churches shortly after moving into the village overnight.

"They shot and killed people. I heard gunshots and then I saw three bodies lying in the middle of a street in the old quarters of the village," said the resident, reached by telephone from neighbouring Jordan. "So many people fled the village for safety."
That's right folks, in the middle of fighting with the Syrian government, the rebels have time to stop and kill innocent people because of their religious beliefs. Just think of all the genocide they'll be able to commit once they don't have this troublesome civil war on their plates.

I may be no fan of religion myself, but this in simply appalling.

Tell me, Christian America, is supporting these people really in the best interest of our country?

Friday, September 6, 2013

An Army of Strawmen

Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and former Clinton speechwriter Eric Liu wrote an article for Bloomberg View yesterday as part of an ongoing series of specious and factually-challenged attacks on those advocating individual liberty.

They compare their purposefully-skewed perception of libertarianism to communism and, to support this thesis, cite examples of extreme, unrepresentative "libertarian" positions. But the imagined rantings of extremist conservatives, who only recently donned the libertarian cape, are hardly representative of the principles of libertarianism.

Their examples are the tired arguments circa 2008, which have long been refuted and are only deposited in the article to lend weight to an otherwise sophomoric rant against ideas they simply don't like. This sort of Sorkin-esque revisionism makes for poor argumentation, but if an honest debate was their goal, they might have bothered to include actual quotes or cite actual arguments.

Instead, they commit to another, equally illogical line of reasoning, as defined below. From Wikipedia:
Poisoning The Well: (or attempting to poison the well) is a rhetorical device where adverse information about a target is pre-emptively[sic] presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that the target person is about to say. 
Poisoning the well can be a special case of argumentum ad hominem, and the term was first used with this sense by John Henry Newman in his work Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1864). 
The origin of the term lies in well poisoning, an ancient wartime practice of pouring poison into sources of fresh water before an invading army, to diminish the attacking army's strength.
I point this out because definitions of logical fallacies exist for a reason. Poor arguments are used when one is unable to counter one's opponent with sound arguments. These reasonable people can't be bothered to choose a worthy argument to refute, so instead (and in classic Clintonian fashion) they try to head off their own refutation at the pass:
Some libertarians will claim we are arguing against a straw man and that no serious adherent to their philosophy advocates the extreme positions we describe. The public record of extreme statements by the likes of Cruz, Norquist and the Pauls speaks for itself. Reasonable people debate how best to regulate or how government can most effectively do its work -- not whether to regulate at all or whether government should even exist.
First of all, language like "reasonable people" is an attempt to attack your opponent while ignoring your opponent's message."Reasonable people" are merely people you don't agree with, and often people that don't share your soapbox.

And if Ted Cruz and Grover Norquist are the only advocates of libertarianism, we might as well quit right now. Cherry picking extreme and often poor examples of an opponent's position, then attacking them, is the very definition of a straw man argument, and trying in the same paragraph to void pointing out a straw man fallacy is clearly poisoning the well.

With the Pauls, it gets a little muddy, because they are a very public face of libertarianism (even though Rand Paul has stated several times that he is not, in fact, a libertarian). But regardless, there is no attempt to refute anything they have stated, just some vague reference to extreme statements that "speak for themselves" (which is another bias-loaded phrase by the noble authors).

I would be more than happy to explain to these two what the merits of libertarian policies are if they were willing to actually state some, but instead they throw around old, discredited and ridiculously out-of-context examples like Somalia and the Koch Brothers, with the hope that their readers are too dumb or merely uninformed to look anything up for themselves.

You guys are supposed to professional policy analysts and pundits. For those who welcome a real debate, this degree of amateurism is frankly disappointing...

P.S. If they need help finding a genuine libertarian position, let's start with this one: "The U.S. should not get involved in the civil war in Syria." Go!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I Got Yer' Sensitivity Training Right Here

I had refrained from commenting on the Missouri State fair rodeo clown who wore an Obama mask, citing a lack of importance. That is, until I saw this little nugget of outrage, compliments of Fox News:
The performer, meanwhile, has been permanently banned from future state fair events and subsequent performers must undergo sensitivity training.
Bloggers need sensitivity training too!
Sure, that paragraph is buried toward the bottom of the story. But that's typical for Fox News, as it's more important that any of the manufactured racial outrage surrounding this story.

That's right folks, parody of a political figure, regardless of his or her race, leads to "sensitivity training" to prevent such political statements in the future. This is no different in principle, if not in degree, than Vladamir Putin's silencing of his critics.

Whether or not the rodeo clown in question is a racist jerk is irrelevant. If we're still pretending this is a free country, we need to remember that criticism of a political figure, no matter how crude, is protected speech under the 1st Amendment.

It's protected speech, no matter how much we dislike the speaker, no matter how offensive the message is. Period.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Justice Department to Adopt Just Policy

The federal government will take the first tiny step to catch up to the people it governs.

From Reuters, Attorney General Eric Holder is set to announce today that the Justice Department is reconsidering its formerly-hard-line stance on mandatory sentencing for non-violent drug offenders.
Holder will outline the status of a broad, ongoing project intended to improve Justice Department sentencing policies across the country in a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco. 
"I have mandated a modification of the Justice Department's charging policies so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels, will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences," Holder is expected to say, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks provided by the Justice Department.
I suppose we'll see what he means by "low-level" but at least  it's a move toward saner policy. And it is refreshing to see a major news organization point out the problem in the next paragraph:
The United States imprisons a higher percentage of its population than other large countries, largely because of anti-drug laws passed in the 1980s and 1990s.
That problem, that violent and non-violent offenders are currently subject to the same "draconian" punishments, is a policy in direct contradiction with most definitions of justice and rather unnecessary since it takes away from judges the responsibility of making judgments.

And it's this failure to make distinctions on a case-by-case basis that leads to poor executions of justice, like the example I cited last week (although I've since found others had posted it perhaps a week earlier).

One should take caution to be too hopeful with the awful respect for civil rights demonstrated by the current and last few administrations. But, hey, it's a start...

Friday, August 9, 2013

Police Put Kid in Foster Care For Pot, Kid Dies

Warning. What follows is terribly upsetting but needs to be seen, especially by those who perpetuate the Prohibition:



Monday, August 5, 2013

The War on America

Just when you thought all these unprecedented disclosures didn't affect you (unless you were plotting a terrorist attack), Reuters has this:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin - not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.
I wonder what secret government wiretapping program this information came from?

And just remember, one can be investigated on drug charges for things as mundane as buying too much Sudafed.



 More as this develops...

Friday, July 26, 2013

We Have Always Been At War With Eurasia

The most transparent administration in history continues its trend of secrecy and deception.

John Wonderlich of the Sunlight Foundation blog pointed out yesterday that Obama's website Change.gov, which used to list the president's 2008 campaign promises, has been taken down. Replacing it is this crudely-formatted image:


As Wonderlich pointed out, the change in the website Change.gov happened but a month ago, so to say "the New Administration has begun" is quite an understatement, since it actually began five years ago.

So why the change now?

Wonderlich speculates (and I agree) that the administration doesn't want people to remember the following passage, which I only re-post to prevent its complete disappearance down the memory hole:
Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.
Here's a link to the original page, which looks to have been removed from Google's cached pages as well.

It's easy to draw the conclusion that Edward Snowden's disclosures are having more of an impact than the Obama administration would like. You'll note the last page capture was on June 7 of this year.

Be vigilant, for the revision of history has already begun...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Slavery as Proto-Corporatism

The issue of slavery has reared its ugly, long-dead mug recently, especially as it relates to those in modern times who are skeptical of government. But was it government itself that fostered this peculiar institution?

In the discussion following the resignation of Jack Hunter from Rand Paul's staff, the point was raised that neo-confederates share the anti-government sentiment that drives libertarian political thought. But I contend the resemblance is merely superficial.

In all actuality, the institution of slavery, which is nondetachable from any form of confederate sympathy, is just as dependent on government as are the current corporatism defenders. And here's why:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What the Mission to Mars Might Look Like

I wanted to share this gem from across the pond, and eventually, one hopes, across the solar system.

Libertarianism might be better off starting with a fresh planet, since we can't even get on the ballot on this one.

Snowden Revelations Effect Change in DC, World

While NSA whistleblower* Edward Snowden may still be dodging U.S. custody, the signal he transmitted doesn't look like it can be stopped.

Roll Call reported yesterday that House GOP "libertarians" demanded amendments be added to the current Defense bill that would de-fund PRISM, among other things.

Read: legislation is happening, in America, because of Snowden's leaks. For those of us who've been railing against NSA spying since it was Bush's pony, it's a glimmer of hope in a struggle long thought to be lost.

But there's more.

Chevron proved that oil companies still look like jerks, though the power for that ruling still emanates from government.

The NSA's embarrassingly un-free program now threatens our international standing as well. The affair exposes our waning influence over South American countries. Calls for liberty from places we once regarded as bastions of tyranny should give Americans pause.

Last week, Germany of all places stopped playing the NSA's game, despite the interior minister's belief "that security is a 'super fundamental right'" and "as such it outranks fundamental rights such as privacy."

Perhaps these events may have unfolded on their own, but I doubt that. What is clear is that Snowden and his leaks aren't going away anytime soon, and the demonizing of the former contractor doesn't seem to be taking root either.

Is it possible that Americans aren't scared so easily, that Terrorism fear-mongering might finally be giving way to sanity?

One can hope and watch as these events continue to unfold.

*Apparently, the AP doesn't allow Snowden to be called a "whistleblower," but I can.

Independent Media 1, Associated Press 0.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Someone Said it Better: Libertarians, Slavery, and the CSA

Ilya Somin, writing for The Volokh Conspiracy, explains why libertarianism and the Confederacy are incompatible, and as you'd expect from someone with the resources of a paying journalism job, he does a better job than I:
Still, pro-Confederate libertarians are a significant enough minority that the phenomenon can’t simply be ignored. So we must continue to emphasize that support for the Confederacy is incompatible with libertarian principles for all the reasons already noted. Jason Kuznicki of Cato writes that he “can’t understand how anyone might admire the Confederacy and also call themselves a libertarian. Any affinity for the Confederacy marks one very clearly as an enemy of liberty.”
I hate to re-link but feel this should be passed along...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Snowden Nominated for Nobel. Wha?

Image Credit: Business Insider
The original, maybe-libertarian, formerly-super-rich, renegade hacker spy Edward Snowden has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Whether he is awarded this increasingly-irrelevant honor is not important, but the following statement is:

From RT.com:
(Stefan Svallfors, a) Swedish sociology professor has nominated Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize. He says the NSA whistleblower could help “save the prize from the disrepute incurred by the hasty and ill-conceived decision” to give the 2009 award to Barack Obama.
At least Europe is finally admitting its 2009 mistake. More as this develops...

Bubble Capitalism

Timothy P. Carney of the Washington Examiner came close to explaining more clearly what Metafederalism had to say on the matter back in May of large, government-cradled corporations in opposition to the notion of a free market.

He said:
Large banks profit from the presumption of a government bailout and the moat created by regulation. They are creatures of government, and they are insured by government, and so laissez-faire talk here is misplaced.
Exactly, except I contend this applies to more than just banks.

Perhaps his prescription for more regulation is apt because the banking industry is so hopelessly intertwined with the government, but that's not what I'm here to argue.

To Big To Fail often equates to To Unwieldy To Compete, hence the need for more government protection through favorable regulation. It's these large, government-inflated companies that give capitalism a bad name, and they're cheating at capitalism.

Maybe the banking industry is lost, but it's not to late for many American industries to wake up and smell the subsidized coffee...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Zimmerman Case Proves Imperfect System Working

The wide range of reactions to the recently decided State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman has given me pause about how well the average person understands the justice system in America.

Like many, I was of the opinion before the trial ended that Zimmerman had commited the crimes with which he was charged. But despite my opinions, we must respect that the law was applied here.

There's a reason that appeals in these types of cases on come from those found guilty, as opposed to appealing a case that exonerates the defendant: The U.S. legal system was set up to err on the side of the accused. This ruling will be good for our society over the long run.

It's terrible for the family of Trayvon Martin, and likely bad for race relations in the short term, but in the end, it's more important that the potentially guilty go free than the innocent get sent to jail — way more important.

It's a hard pill to swallow, especially now in the midst of all the nearly-racist predictions of looting and the general uneasyness that even the most staunch defenders of gun rights are experiencing. But it's still important for us as a free society because the alternative is far worse, regardless of one's ethnic lineage.

My sincere hope is that people remember this as the watercooler discussions of this case play out over the next week or so.

Despite how bad this outcome feels emotionally, in the end, justice was preserved.

Friday, July 12, 2013

World Slightly More Free as Napolitano Resigns

Homeland Security comisar and Civil Rights Violation Czar Janet Napolitano announced that she is resigning today. She leaves behind a large, strong department, fine-tuned to give the public the appearance of security while actually taking away citizens' rights, one checkpoint at a time.

The now-former secretary declined to comment on these accomplishments, but did say the usual boilerplate quitting stuff that's not worth mentioning here. It only seems appropriate at this time of transition to look back on the tenure of America's most intrusive cabinet secretary.

Under Napolitano's steady hand, we've seen the first ever near-rape searches at airports (including threatening legal action to silence the victim, in this case), profiling people with differing political opinions, and policy way ahead of the curve on the spying on American citizens.

From the AP in 2010:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fighting homegrown terrorism by monitoring Internet communications is a civil liberties trade-off the U.S. government must make to beef up national security, the nation's homeland security chief said(...)
It will be sad to see her go, not because I think her replacement will be better at violating the rights of American citizens, but rather, because her replacement may be better at keeping these violations out the public eye.

See you around the free speech zones, Janet...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Southern Avenger is Not a Libertarian

A luchador mask? Really?
Senator and rumored 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul (R-Ky.) looks to have hired this racist shock jockey asshole. Once again, a Paul is suddenly found to be cavorting with less-than-savory characters and is being put in an indefensible position.

It's really frustrating to see this again.

Those of us, who have a respect for human rights as a fundamental component of our core political beliefs, are once again tarred with the ill judgement of the few who manage to enter the national spotlight.

I'm here to set two things straight: racism is not comparable with libertarian morality; and the confederacy was not a libertarian movement or organization.

Secessionists weren't exactly the states' rights-yelping freedom fighters that some of the old halls of conservatism claim them to be.

Even before they formed, they used the federal government, with powers granted by Fugitive Slave Act, to force free states to return human "property" to the South. They were the first to turn to conscription.

They beat up abolitionist members of congress for pointing out that it's a terrible idea to own people. And I don't mean hired thugs, the violence was administered by their own congressmen.

But this was nowhere near the physical, psychological and economic violence administered by the confederacy to the slaves.

Attempt to put the emotional component of slavery aside, if possible, for just one second. Unprovoked violence against another person is a violation of that person's rights in the eyes of a libertarian, whether it's assault or theft (forced labor is the stealing of labor, by the way).

The confederacy was built upon a system of unprovoked physical violence and monetary theft, something well documented and fundamental to the existence of the confederacy itself. Any discussion about this old saw must not be divorced of that fact. The CSA was formed to defend slavery.

In perpetrating the confederate way of living even after the shooting stopped, through all sorts of rights violations, some still ongoing, it took many generations for the conditions for the newly freed to improve in the south. Physical violence, intimidation and all the hallmarks of real racism marked the worst of these times.

And these violations were carried out through immoral laws, if not by outright criminality. State and local governments can easily grow tyrannical too, and torturing, displacing and destroying its own people, even if it's just the black ones, smacks like a pimp of tyranny to me, and likewise not compatible with libertarianism.

Nor is racism enforced by law, which is the logical conclusion of any neo-secessionist agenda.

Just policy must be designed with no regard to race in mind, and I don't trust that of a person like the Southern Avenger, despite his recent, half-hearted attempts at backing up his earlier, insane statements (like supporting the assassination of Lincoln).

The confederacy was not libertarian, nor is Jack Hunter. Get rid of him, Rand.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Why Libertarianism Hasn't Been Tried

...because you authoritarian hornswogglers never give us a chance (via the Arizona Daily Star):
PHOENIX - Contending one and maybe two congressional races were stolen from them, Republican legislators have approved and Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a measure to finesse election laws to keep out the Libertarians who they say are taking votes from their candidates. 
The change, tucked into a much larger set of revisions to election laws, would sharply increase the number of signatures that Libertarian and Green Party candidates need to get on the ballot for their own legislative and congressional primaries. 
Barry Hess, the Libertarian Party's former candidate for governor, said in most cases the number of signatures required is far more than the number of people actually registered in most districts. He said unless these minor parties could find independents willing to help them get on the ballot, it would create an "insurmountable obstacle" to any minor party candidate getting nominated, much less being on the general election ballot.
Just in case Michael Lind didn't receive enough of a response to his assertion that libertarian philosophy is impractical because it's never been tried.

Now granted, libertarianism already starts out at a disadvantage, since its ethos is one of less power over others, and elected office by definition is a position of power over others.

However, I've been in the trenches of ballot access petitioning in the past, and you'd be surprised how few people who claim to want liberty fail to extend that courtesy to other people when those other people have a differing opinion.

Just remember folks, the GOP was a third party at one time. If laws like Arizona's were around in the 1850's, we still might have slavery.

Libertarians Are Self-Indulgent Crybabies and Other Unfacts

The Huffington Post has another libertarian hit piece out today, proving yet again that liberals have absolutely clue how to use a dictionary.

In it, George Washington University professor Amitai Etzioni claims that "libertarians" should not fight mandatory tornado shelters and then turn around and claim money from the government for failing to provide such shelters. And in this point, I agree with Mr. Etzioni.

But what I fail to understand it why the good professor seems eager to apply this hypocrisy to the libertarian strawman he has created. Perhaps he found some jerk calling himself a "libertarian" complaining about not being FEMA Fabulous after the storms, but I contend no genuine believer in individual liberty is crying about a late FEMA check.

A tornado shelter mandate would be unnecessary if the government stopped subsidizing poor decisions, like living in Tornado Alley without a tornado shelter. This is a classic example of the government creating a problem and then trying to fix it.

What Etzioni fails to understand, as do most liberals, is that libertarians expect the individual to fend for themselves in these situations. These are just good old conservatives, who, like always, complain about big government until they actually want it for themselves.

With greater individual liberty we expect people to exercise greater responsibility. Libertarians say we don't need the government because we can do it better and faster and cheaper on our own.

The problem here is government, who always steps in to bail people out of the consequences of poor decisions. This holds true for everything from individuals to large, rich banks, as we've seen in the not-too-distant past.

There is no reason to stop diving off cliffs if there is always someone there to catch your fall. If people who live in tornado-prone areas knew they either build a shelter or lose everything, far more people would build a shelter on their own merit.

Ideally, one who fails to protect their home and family from a reasonable threat should face negative consequences. Sometimes these can be dire, but nonetheless, one can never be motivated to act if one's mistakes are constantly erased.

But should they just starve? Are we libertarians really that callous?

Of course not. It's 2013, and no one realistically expects there to be no social net. We just question that net's size and scope.

But this isn't good enough for Etzioni:
When libertarians get hurt because they refused vaccination or to wear a seat belt or a motorcycle helmet, or have their property damaged because they build too close to the shoreline -- they call on ambulances, hospitals, and FEMA for help. 
They claim that they paid for these services with their tax dollars, but it turns out that what they pay does not even begin to cover the costs of training the doctors and nurses and building the hospitals. Instead, a good part of the funding for these emergency services comes from the national debt that libertarians claim to so hate, and which they want to reduce -- by cutting services to other people, especially those on food stamps and Medicaid.
First of all, even middle school kids know what insurance is, if that's the bar we're setting here. Why is the assumption that the government pays for everything?

Etzioni has no way to prove the claim that libertarians don't pay their fair share of emergency services (or if he does, he didn't see fit to include that data in his anti-libertarian screed). But that doesn't stop him from claiming that we're all a bunch of freeloaders.

But I can't blame him, since any attempt at talking about budget cuts brings about the usual liberal whining about losing emergency services, as if the first priority of any deficit hawk is shut down the saving of people and property.

It's probably just a reflex.

We oppose regulations like this because, in practice, mandates on private property create far more unintended bad consequences than intended good ones, and not because we want to be self-indulgent middle schoolers.

Ascribing a false argument to an opponent and then attacking that argument is intellectually dishonest and in bad form. I appeal to the liberal world to actually look into libertarian ideas before mocking them, since the term seems to be synonymous with "young conservative" for people like Etzioni.

Bitching about the government then taking from it is truly a Republican thing, but don't let that fact get in the way of a good hit piece.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Senate Trades Mexicans for Drones

First Marco Rubio proposed the language requirement, and now we get this (via Reuters):
Federal agents on the U.S.-Mexican border would double to about 40,000 under a deal reached on Thursday in the Democratic-led Senate to draw more Republicans to a landmark immigration bill headed toward anticipated passage.  
Some questioned the costs and benefits of up to $50 billion in the extra border security, which also will include high-tech surveillance equipment such as manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, radar and seismic devices.
At a time when we can't trust the government's surveillance apparatus, do we really want an increase in domestic drone use?

This is one issue where the recently publicly-known libertarian figures, like Ron Paul, are simply wrong. People have a right to make a life in this country, just like most of their ancestors did, because our government rests on documents that clearly state that all people are created equal, not just all native-born citizens.

That old, paleolibertatarian and frankly nativist saw must be cast aside, for how can we claim to offer freedom to the world if willing members of that world can't experience it?

And I don't say this because I merely disagree with them, but rather because harsh restrictions on immigration are not in keeping with principles of libertarianism, and with the principles of a modern free society.

It's a shame that Rubio, who runs campaign ads in Spanish, picked up this obsolete banner, and it's a shame that some GOP members are willing to use the civil rights of millions as a bargaining chip to bolster their security state.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

We're Going to War Again, Again

Just when you though the U.S. had its fill of endless war in the Middle East, the President just announced that he asked Congress to authorize military action he determined Syria used chemical weapons, killing about 150 people in Syria, and that we're getting involved in yet another mostly-Muslim country.

From the L.A. Times:
WASHINGTON — The White House declared Thursday that Syria had crossed a "red line" by using chemical weapons in that country's civil war, and in response, U.S. officials said, President Obama had authorized sending arms to some rebel groups. 
The arms will be provided to the rebel Supreme Military Council, an official said. The council is the military arm of an umbrella group that represents more moderate factions of the forces arrayed against the government of President Bashar Assad. White House officials would not comment on the decision to supply arms.
Remember when that "red line" used to be Congress authorizing the use of force against another country? Say what you want about Bush II, but at least he talked congress in giving him the go ahead.

This time the Republicrat president is not even pretending to follow the constitution:
The administration intends to consult with the United Nations and allies, as well as Congress, before choosing how exactly to respond, Rhodes added. Obama plans to meet with allied leaders and with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week in Northern Ireland when he attends an annual economic summit.
Of course McCain is on board, if any of you anti-war Democrats were starting to question your vote in 2008. Mitt Romney is probably already over there...

So here we go again, another war.

Image From FunnyOrDie

Another kind-hearted and noble attempt to help rebels defeat the alliance or something. And another mess in 10-15 years when those rebel groups turn on us like they always do.

Another transfer of U.S. men and ships and guns and treasure to the Muslim world. And another sea of silence from the masses of Obama voters who thought he'd bring them an end to endless war.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Wall is Cracking

After reports surfaced earlier that internet companies were seeking permission to friggin' talk about what's going on, Google begins the posturing.

From the L.A. Times:
SAN FRANCISCO -- Google and other technology companies are pushing back against media reports that they gave national intelligence agencies direct access to their servers to turn over emails and other online communication from users. 
Google, Facebook and Microsoft each called on the U.S. government Tuesday to make public the number and scope of national security requests. 
When Google receives court orders to turn over information to the government, it uses FTP, a secure way of sending encrypted files over the Internet, according to Google spokesman Chris Gaither. 
"The U.S. government does not have the ability to pull that data directly from our servers or network," Gaither said.
But the interesting language comes at the bottom:
Google's legal chief, David Drummond, said in a public letter Tuesday that "assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users’ data are simply untrue."
Google looks like it's clarifying its stance in the public eye, asserting that they are not complying with illegal requests. This puts the any illegal activity that might be uncovered solely on the NSA...

Why the Snowden Affair is Important


With NSA leaker Edward Snowden still on the run, and therefore keeping the story alive, prominent figures in political media are weighing in.

Disparate voices from Glenn Beck to Michael Moore are publicly declaring support for Snowden's disclosures, calling him a hero, and the usual voices of statist apologists are spewing their familiar venom, pointing to Snowden's lack of a high-school diploma (which says more about the value of diplomas than it does about Snowden).

This article is the most ridiculous attempt at damage control ever. In summation, the NSA says trust us, we have the capability to use PRISM judiciously. I don't think anyone disputes that fact, but it's the intent and not the capability that is of concern here.

But all the media praise or scorn will mean very little if and when Snowden is detained.

I want to hope he is able to flee to some place where he can be safe of the U.S., and can remain in the public eye to prevent being "disappeared." If anyone can do it, I think a Super-Rich Libertarian Hacker Spy can.

It needs to stay in the public consciousness because we need to have a public debate on whether programs like PRISM are right for America. We don't want to go the way of supposedly post-communist Russia, outlawing basic rights to protect the government's positions.

Many libertarians are not terribly excited by the recent news, since we've been warning everyone about this for years. Wake up, civil libertarians! The time is right, and right now, to take a stand on this.

I expect many attempts to discredit Snowden over the next few weeks, but we mustn't shoot the messenger, because in this case the message is too important.

And I fear that if this chance to change government surveillance policy is missed, it may never come again...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Maybe-Libertarian Hacker Spy Is the Leak

The leaker outs himself:



If you haven't been paying attention, here's the Washington Post article. And I said "maybe-libertarian" because according to Reason, Snowden made donations to Ron Paul's 2012 presidential run:
We know from the reports in the Guardian and from Booz Allen, itelf, that he worked most recently in Hawaii, and OpenSecrets lists an Edward Snowden of Waipahu, Hawaii, making a $250 donation to then-Rep. Ron Paul on May 6, 2012. An Edward Snowden of Columbia, Maryland, made a contribution to the Ron Paul campaign in the same amount two months earlier.
Snowden faces some serious consequences for his principles if indeed that is the motive behind all this. But I applaud the stand he's taking, and the timing in which he's taking it, that is, during the Bradley Manning trial.

Wake up, America. Libertarians are here to stay, and more powerful than you realize. We need to start re-examining our government's policies, one post-9/11 overreach at a time...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

We Called This One

By we, I mean libertarians.

We've been warning America since day one that the Patriot Act was a bad idea (Rep. Ron Paul most notably). We used to count the left as our ally in this, until the left took it over in 2008 and expanded it.

And now look what you did. From the Washington Post:
The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track one target or trace a whole network of associates, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post. 
The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.
Every email you've sent since 2009, every drunk Tweet or text over Google Voice might now be in a secret NSA facility built in Utah, as Wired reported in 2012.

Think back to every keystroke you sent forth over the internet and wonder if you ever said anything suspicious, because there's probably some NSA employee or computer doing the same thing.

The only way Obama can redeem himself is to put an end to this immediately. Because before too long, political dissent will be choked by the fear of unsafe language. Do you really want to put that power in the Republicans' hands in 2016?

Pull a Bruce Wayne and auto-delete this shit...

Why the Old GOP Has No Cred

...because all this wiretapping business started under Bush.

There's going to be all sorts of criticism directed at Obama from the right, but I don't care. The right said nothing under Bush, and until they acknowledge this and realize it's an inherent problem with big government, their arguments are invalid.

UPDATE: Yet another reason to stop punishing whistleblowers like Bradley Manning.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Libertarian Bashing Continues Apace

I mentioned yesterday that the Motley Fool ran a hit piece on libertarians (pivoting on the 26th anniversary of  of the ascent of Alan Greenspan, of all dates).

Tuesday is Salon's turn, I suppose.

To spare you the details, the article basically asks why libertarianism hasn't even been tried since we keep claiming it's such a good idea. Well, the answer to this has many parts.

1. The U.S. at it's founding was probably the most libertarian country that existed at the time. I mean this in comparison to the rest of the world, not as compared to an ideal libertarian state.

Slavery is obviously in violation of the core libertarian policy of individual liberty, and there were many forms of government interference that would not exist in a libertarian utopia. However, the country was founded on many individual rights and economic freedoms that form the core principles of modern libertarianism.

Sure, we've drifted away from some of these concepts and fixed some rather un-libertarian policies over the years, but if they want at least a partial example of libertarianism in practice, the USA is a great place to start.

2. Libertarianism, by definition, is in conflict with centralized power. Most of those who enter politics desire power, because politics is the business of gaining power. Teachers get into teaching to teach, politicians get in to politics to exercise power.

Libertarians generally oppose exercising power over others, which sounds nice to voters, but not as nice as the other guys (see the left and the right) who promise to exercise their power for the voters' aims. The impulse to "do something" overrides the impulse to "live and let live" almost every time.

And that libertarian "live and let live" may win philosophical arguments but doesn't garner popularity when it comes time to vote. People want their guy exercising power their way rather than some guy exercising no power.

It may not be correct, but it is the way it is. The general election of 2004 is a case study in the fact that something being popular doesn't make it right.

3. Hey Michael Lind, have you ever spoken to a libertarian before? We're willing and much more able to answer your questions than the strawmen you've hastily stitched together.

I think it's awfully arrogant to claim you've asked an unanswerable question. And I really don't understand the comparison of libertarianism to Soviet Communism, since the latter was tried and did fail miserably in both the spheres of economic and civil rights.

4. Lind throws around a big number like "193 sovereign states" in order to say things like "193 countries and not one is libertarian? WTF?!?"

But he fails to mention that included in that 193 figure are some real shitholes like Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, North Korea, Haiti, and the Sudan. It would be intellectually dishonest to say libertarians can't do better than some of these places, not matter how much you disagree with us.

If you look at those 193, nine have real-life ruling monarchs, another six run by monarchs with absolute power, eight that simply outlawed political dissent, a fucking theocracy, and two whose governments came to power via military coup.

And these are just the ones who are openly flaunting their lack of a free society. Many more of the countries on that list are democratic in name but dictatorial in practice. For a movement that aims to limit government power, you can see why libertarianism has far fewer paths to relevance before it than the 193 figure Lind cites.

5. Lind's "proof" is to cherry pick an island off the coast of Africa, use a Republican freedom metric (the Heritage Foundation is Republican, not libertarian) and then claim that less government equals more dead babies.

This ridiculous line of reasoning does not merit a response, sorry. It's like trying to explain to Ken Hamm how carbon dating works.

This is just another mindless attack on the growing libertarian movement that threatens modern liberalism's grasp on power.

After all, not trying something simply because it's never been tried before (which is what Lind's article implies) is a rather conservative stance for a supposedly progressive publication to take.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Motley Fool Attacks With Headlines, Few Facts

Yesterday, the Motley Fool ran a story about the 26th anniversary of the nomination of Alan Greenspan, an event for which I was woefully unprepared. In fact, I seem to miss this holiday every year.

Why?

Because it's a completely insignificant milestone to most of the world. But for the Motley Fool, it's a perfect occasion to blame "libertarians" for the late 'oughts Housing Crisis and other bad Republican/Democratic administration policies.

I welcome the opportunity to debate what supposed libertarian ideas were at fault, but since the story fails to cite any, I have only the unfamiliar characterization that Alex Planes hoists up to knock down like a piñata. And in this case the one holding the bat is similarly blinded.

Just because Greenspan called himself a libertarian and read Ayn Rand novels does not mean his policies or the policies of the government that lead to the housing crisis or the dot-com bubble were in any way libertarian. It's like Bush calling himself a conservative or Joe Biden calling himself sane.

Since libertarianism has been gaining steam in mainstream circles, lots of people are using the term to cast their political views in a new cool, hip light. That's how you end up with a broad spectrum of people from Bill Maher to Glenn Beck calling themselves libertarians.

But when you're trying to paint a growing freedom movement with the brush of disasters, why let facts get in the way?

So what if many un-libertarian, centralized-government policies more likely led to our recent troubles? We wouldn't want to upset the current status quo of government interference causing problems that require even greater government interference.

But I shouldn't accuse a news source custom-tailored to the very class that libertarianism threatens of intentionally misleading people. That being stated, the timing of this story is curious.

Rand Paul's recent popularity has given the hope of relevance to many long-frustrated libertarians, even though many still, including this author, have some bones to pick with the Kentucky senator.

In a world of news by keyword, did the Motley Fool put "libertarian" in the headline of a mainly GOP-bashing article to create guilt by association? I can't say for sure, but it is clear from the article that introducing facts to the public is a motive that can be ruled out...

Friday, May 31, 2013

Medical Marijuana May Prevent Obesity, Diabetes

A new study published by the America Journal of Medicine claims to show a link between cannibus use and lower "fasting insulin" levels, which could mean a lesser likelihood of developing diabetes and obesity in general.

Here's a link to the article, which unfortunately is in PDF format.

Let's not be too hasty, as cannibus has only recently been available for study and we can expect a lot of new data in the years ahead. But with treatments for cancer at least having anecdotal success, the unintended consequences might be in our favor for once.

The intended consequences, namely ending The Prohibition, are still to be remedied...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Last Closet to Open

From io9 comes a call for a new civil rights battle:
What I am trying to accomplish is multifold,” he told Merica. “I consider myself working on the next civil equality movement, just like women’s rights, LGBT rights and African-American Civil Rights. We are still in the early stages of eliminating discrimination against atheists and humanists. That is something I really want to accomplish.
More on atheism later when events merit a discussion...

Defining Metafederalism: Libertarians and NASA

Kahlesste kaase, motherfucker!
In libertarian circles I often see an uncharacteristic affinity for one government program in particular, an affinity which I too hold. That program is NASA, and I think it has a place in the world where people start making sense on issues of individual liberty and limited government.

Yes NASA, the American space program that, despite being a terribly inefficient and to some an unnecessary organization, has yielded some serious pioneering in both real space and scientific discovery.

But in the era of private space ports and the end of the shuttle program, many have questioned the viability of the space agency.

As I have stated, libertarians are not anarchists; the government has some role to fill. Two future roles for NASA are, in my view, completely consistent with libertarian philosophy.

First of all, there exists things like this:
On May 31, an asteroid as big as nine cruise ships will sail past Earth. There is no cause for concern, however, as the asteroid is expected to miss the Earth by approximately 3.6 million miles, which is about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
The government has the right, or more specifically, the duty to defend its citizens. And I consider defending humanity from an apocalyptic strike from Near Earth Objects, or NEOs, fits well within the definition of defense.

We have had two rather scary near misses over the last year, and one hopes NASA can work with the burgeoning private space industry to combat this problem. We can quibble over unfair government contract assignment of the anti-asteroid batteries once they are in place.

Secondly, someone will have to step in to play traffic cop if the future does hold for humanity the ascent from our home world. It may sound like sci-fi, but someone is going to have to manage trade regulations* and traffic routing and what not. (As you may have noticed, I am not convinced of the practical applications of the old private road saw of the more extreme wing).

So there. Not exactly a libertarian view in the strictest sense, but fitting of this term metafederalism, that is, moving beyond that which is unattainable in order to effect real libertarian change. Public roads are not going anywhere soon, but with outer space, the sky is no longer the limit...

*As I mentioned, regulations will always exist in some form for markets, at minimum in order to prosecute fraud, etc. I feel libertarians realize this, and want both limited and even application of the least amount of regulation possible.

For More Information, Here is the NASA NEO website.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Obama To Appoint Yet Another Former Bushy

Just in case you had any lingering doubts about the lack of substantive difference between the two largest parties, allow me to pass along this from the New York Times:
President Obama plans to nominate James B. Comey, a former hedge fund executive who served as a senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, to replace Robert S. Mueller III as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to two people with knowledge of the selection.
Someone is going to have to explain how a former hedge fund manager is going to be qualified to run the FBI, unless of course this is yet another example of the revolving door of Washington.

So the guy made some political stunt during the Bush II years. He still went along with the whole wiretapping affair after some adjustments were made. But to imply he thwarted some illegal program (which went ahead anyhow) in the name of altruism is outright silly.

Comey is just another reboot in the new Millennial America, where everyone pretends to be on either side of the same coin, flipped in full display of the public and with a politically-blinding glimmer.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Clinton Barely Edges Paul in Iowa Poll


Joe Wolverton at The New American takes a look into the Rand Paul camp:
During a visit to Kentucky, Paul told reporters that his decision to seek a second term in the Senate was certain, adding that any decision on a presidential run would “come later.” Paul echoed these remarks in an interview with The New American, saying that the call on his presidential candidacy wouldn’t come before 2014.
(...) 
A new Quinnipiac poll shows Clinton leading Iowa voters by a narrow 46-42 percent margin.
I'm pretty sure this is the best I've seen a libertarian-leaning candidate perform in my lifetime. The best part:
Presidential aspirations aside, Rand Paul is bolstering his libertarian bona fides by blocking every effort by his colleagues in Congress to deprive Americans of their most basic civil rights as protected by the Constitution.
I really hope he keeps this up...

Correction 5.28.2013: Wow, that's bad. The headline originally read "Paul over Clinton in Iowa Poll“ and the permalink will remain so as a testament to my blunder.

Unintended Consequences of DooGooderism

Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame turned 75 years old last week, and has been fighting cancer for about a year.

His weapon? Medical Marijuana, which he claimed recently has helped him beat the disease altogether. From Zoe Mintz at the IBT:
“That's right, I kicked cancer's ass! So the magic plant does cure cancer with the right diet and supplements,” Chong wrote. 
Chong was diagnosed with prostate cancer last June. According to his post, Chong said he was recommended an intense treatment in Mexico, which cost $25,000. He sought an alternative and found a Canadian doctor who recommended a different diet and “hash oil.”
Obviously anecdotal examples can't replace actual science, but now that the belt of prohibition is loosening a little, one hopes we can actually begin studying what benefits Medical MJ can bring to the medical field.

One result of The Prohibition has been the suppression of research on this substance.

With open study (that is, study where those involved do not need to fear incarceration), perhaps we can design forms of the plant that would have less harmful side effects for patients.

But all that hinges on open discussion, an enemy of the War on Drugs and of liberty-crushing policies in general. I beg this discussion begin before too many lives are lost to the whims of superstition or traditionally-held yet scientifically-wrong beliefs.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Defining Metafederalism: The Libertarian Welfare State

One of the hardest parts of libertarianism to digest, for many, is our alleged lack of compassion for the poor or suffering or both. The byproduct of advocating for greater personal liberty and personal responsibility is that one may appear callous toward those who are in genuine need of help.

And indeed, some libertarians arguments range from calling the USA's current safety net system (or welfare state or dole or whatever is the term de jour) unnecessary to declaring it unconstitutional. And in principle, I agree. One shouldn't be forced to support another's unproductive lifestyle.

But there's a huge difference between supporting a lifestyle and lending a hand. And therefore I propose a compromise to the libertarian world:

Why the Tax Code Sucks: Part II

Kentucky Senator and mostly libertarian Rand Paul on why the tax code causes more problems than it fixes:



It's nice to see public figures making the practical arguments not unlike those MF publishes. If you missed the point, Paul was saying that too high a tax rate causes people to not want to pay it. Are raising taxes really the solution?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Both Parties Blow and Other Links

Not much time to write this week, so...

Libertarian "Activist" Arrested for Public Toking and his behavior during this doesn't mesh well with realistic policy reform.

Rand Paul representing Libertarians here and here. Now that you're the media's face of libertarianism, we need to get a few things straight...

Now that we can take one's property and give it to another private entity, I guess reporters don't even bother questioning Eminent Domain. At least the readers smell a rat.

More prison guards and more unions here and here.

Welcome to the USA, 2013.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Capitalism vs. Fraud: Part I

Since this site is to small to afford a lawyer, I'll just share what William Alden of the The New York Times wrote:
...Herbalife, which sells nutritional supplements through a network of distributors, was already under considerable scrutiny. The hedge fund manager William A. Ackman claimed late last year that the company was an illegal pyramid scheme...
The linked story is itself the problem. At what point did business writers start treating multi-level marketing operations as legitimate businesses?

Capitalism and the Free Market are given a bad reputation by ethically questionable "companies" like these, and make easy targets for regulation arguments too.

Let me be clear on a principle: fraud is not capitalism. I'm not accusing anyone of committing fraud, I'm simply stating that libertarianism and enforcement of theft laws are fully compatible.

Libertarians do not condone violence (and theft is a form of violence against property), and this view remains consistent for individuals, small companies, or massive banks via humongous tax-funded bailouts.

We don't need new regulations, but merely enforcement of our laws. Also, for fun, here's the Penn & Teller: Bullshit! episode about the matter:



UPDATE: Pyramid Scheme Alert is good resource for checking out potential "opportunities."

Republican Big Government

With the ongoing troubles for President Obama over his administration's Nixonian policies, MF has been covering the left's abuses. So as not to be confused with your typical Obama-bashing blog, I'd like to take a minute to point out that Republicans can no longer waive the banner of small government.

We bash everyone here.

I use the term Republican because "conservative" no longer applies. We libertarians are the true conservatives, the sole standard-bearers of small government and social sensibilities.

The same people who champion 2nd Amendment rights as a safeguard against tyranny facilitate this tyranny from the local level to the highest court in the land.

Ideas like declaring an official religion are literally Medieval and the very definition of abuse of individual rights by an overreaching government. And while both sides of the traditional spectrum are at fault for the disastrous War on Drugs, it is the Republican core's big-government, uh, elephant in the proverbial room.

As I mentioned before, a real conservative would look to conserve our fighting men and women, not throw them into war after bloody war overseas for the enrichment of their defense contractor pals.

Image from CNN.com
Rand Paul's recent rightward reversal from his previously-federalist views show how little regard for personal liberty the aging, unchanging and powerful GOP truly has.

Paul's big breakthrough in popularity came with his much-stories filibuster about drones, yet once the tentacles of the GOP establishment take hold, such principled and logical positions must be abandoned for the sake of power.

This desire for power, over all other corrupting agents, is the acid that erodes the steel pillars of principal in our legislators.

Strong opposition to statism in the future relies on a strong foundation in small government principles, and if we the people take back some of this power, it's corrosive effect can be effectively minimalized.

Attempts to control campaign finances are futile, as money always finds its way to power. It is the power that must be regulated because it is the power from which all corruption derives.

The degeneration of the GOP over the last few decades is a case study. It is now up to libertarianism to carry on the battle to protect individual liberty both personally and professionally.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Future of War

It will be on the internet (via WSJ):
The Financial Times said its Tech Blog and various Twitter accounts were hacked on Friday by a group identifying itself as the Syrian Electronic Army. 
(...) 
Seconds before the note was published, two messages populated the newspaper's Twitter feed, including one stating "Syrian Electronic Army Was Here," and another including a link to a YouTube video of several bound and blindfolded individuals who appeared to be shown being executed. Both messages were quickly removed.
Has our massive military apparatus made us to inflexible to the changing modern world? Not unlike France and it's WWI hubris, circa 1940, are we preparing for the last war rather than the next?

My practical call for a saner military here.

What seem like pranks may be test runs for serious attacks, and since our infrastructure is largely dependent on electronics and consumer internet attacks might create real world panic, we need to pay better attention to this rather than using our military as a revenue source for Germany or Japan.

2016 Watch and Other Links

And until the campaign season begins in earnest, some links:

Rand Paul Runs Right

Hannity Claims Libertarian Leanings: Can someone tell Hannity that libertarian does not mean "cover term for something I'm liberal about but can't say publicly for fear of losing my show."





Friday, May 17, 2013

One More Nail for Prohibition

Libertarian Pol Don DeZarn (Image credit: NJ.com)
A New Jersey Libertarian running for that state's senate publicly smoked pot in public. It's good to see people taking a stand, even if there was no risk of getting arrested as the story from NJ.com/The Times said.

Is this really the best picture they could find for the cover?

Or next time, dude, could you bring some Visine?

He's actually somewhat lucky he didn't get arrested, since 86.5 people are arrested on marijuana charges every hour in the U.S. according the chart at the bottom and it's data (which can be found by following the image's link).

Because of this high arrest rate and the heavy consequences paired in some states with a possession charge, the traditional civil disobedience component of getting arrested in the act might not bring the desired attention to the issue.

It's somewhat hard, after all, to stand out in an annual crowd of over 750,000 arrested for a plant each year.



UPDATE: Russian Bears Get Wasted Too

UPDATE 2: According to Reason, Jimmy Carter (now a private citizen since the Constitution explicitly prohibits titles of nobility such as "former President") stated his desire to continue The Prohibition. Carter said:
"We have to prevent making marijuana smoking from becoming attractive to young people, which is, I'm sure, what the producers of marijuana....are going to try and do."
As are probably the producers of movies, music, television, video games, and toasted pastries. But nothing makes access to marijuana for kids easy like keeping it illegal, since drug dealers tend not to check IDs...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Defining Metafederalism: Non-Aggression

One position we share with only the leftmost wing of the left is that of opposition to aggressive war. We used to share this with the rest of America but the definition of a defensive war has become so muddled since 9-11-2001.

Opposition to war should not be confused with opposition to having a strong military. To the contrary, a strong military is a major deterrent against the outbreak of war.

"Defense" Hawks often portray the anti-war movement as being in some way emotionally opposed to war, and the image of a 60's era hippie comes to kind, that is, without any practical reasoning.

Perhaps the anti-war left does feel that way, but libertarians claim logic and ethics as allies in the struggle to end this unending war.

I'm 30 years old as I type this. By 2014, and counting Iraq 1 and maybe Kosovo, I will have spent more years of my life in a country at war than years in times of peace.

Democratic Wars and Republican Wars and justified wars and illegal wars and distraction wars and wars begun by gunslingers and Nobel Peace Prize winners alike.

It's enough already.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Obama's War on Transparency: Part II


...and he's beginning to lose one battle. From the L.A. Times:
WASHINGTON – President Obama announced the resignation Wednesday evening of Steven Miller, acting commissioner of the embattled Internal Revenue Service, a move the president said was essential to restore the public’s faith following revelations that the agency inappropriately singled out conservative groups for special scrutiny.
But here's the important part:
He became aware that there were potential problems in the way the IRS was handling applications more than a year ago, an inspector general’s report said this week. In late March 2012, amid media stories that tea party groups were having difficulty getting their applications approved, he asked one of his managers to find out what was going on and make recommendations. 
On May 3, 2012, Miller learned that the agency had improperly singled out groups by name for additional examination of their applications for tax-exempt status, the IRS said this week. 
But six weeks later, in a letter to the chairman of a key House oversight subcommittee, Miller made no mention of the problems and wrote that after an increase in applications for tax-exempt status in 2010, the agency "took steps to coordinate the handling of the cases to ensure consistency."
So he had the inkling, and later evidence, that the IRS was targeting a certain segment of the public for increased tax scrutiny, which can effectively hamper participation in our Republic (whether one agrees with their views or not). And all this before the last election began in earnest?

Benghazi was a red-herring and making serious opposition to the current administration look silly.

The actions of the IRS are just plain wrong.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Obama's War on Transparency

When he was elected, Obama talked about bringing transparency to government. That was the high-water mark for this issue.

Since talking a good game, the president has acted to make the conduct of our government more opaque than at any time in our history. From fewer Freedom Of Information Act requests being granted, to the promised honesty of the White House website which is now a mere propaganda arm, to his crackdown on whistleblowers (More links to this and much more on Politico here).

And the Julian Assange/Bradley Manning affair is worthy of it's own post.

Now the news breaks today that his Justice Department was secretly collecting evidence on American journalists. In America. Seriously, Eric Holder just defended it too.

Get ready to watch Democratic pundits twist logic into a Gordian Knot defending Obama.

While in no way do I defend Richard Nixon, I think his crime was less severe. Nixon violated laws, Obama is violating amendments...

Great Scott, Flying Cars Arrive

Photo Source: news.discovery.com
It's about time we get flying cars, now give us the moving sidewalks we were promised and we're square.

Now we just need some way to power the buggers. Do remember that these plug-in hybrids are recharged from a carbon heavy supply.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Why the Tax Code Sucks

I see people bat around estimates of the number of pages the US tax code contains, yet they never seem to say why such a large document is bad. After all, complicated answers aren't necessarily wrong answers.

Is a complicated tax system bad because it's a pain in the ass to do taxes? Yes, but not a good enough reason to scrap it. Life is a pain sometimes.

But when the complicated system is used to favor influential political donors or, worse, silence opposition, as in the recent news that Tea Party groups were targeted by Obama's IRS, then, my liberty-loving friends, we have a problem.

A simple system of determining tax burden is needed because simple rules prevent the uneven and easily exploitable collection of revenue from being manipulated to target or exempt individual groups or industries.

If taxes on business profits were, for a completely random example, 10% for every company, the end, then there is no method by which one business could leverage political influence over another.

Lower taxes might be what everyone hears when a pundit pushes a flat tax, but it is justice in the collection of revenue that we seek here at MF, and is so sorely lacking in America today.

Without favoritism in the tax code, I contend* the Free Market would be in a far better position to police itself.

*My logic behind this will be saved for another post or posts, since it would be too long and too off-topic to lay out here.