Monthly Archives: December 2006

Another Bush Surrender (See Updates At Bottom of Page)

This time, in Somalia. The weak Somali interim government is under attack by Islamofascist militias with ties to Al-Qaeda. The Ethiopian government has deployed troops to support the Somali government. Yesterday, the Ethiopians upped the stakes by launching air strikes against Islamofascist militia positions in and around Mogadishu. Now, the Bush State Department doesn’t like that very much.

The Bush administration is urging a halt to conflict in Somalia that has intensified since neighboring Ethiopia launched air strikes on the country’s two main airports and sent ground troops into Somali territory. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, Ethiopia’s military intervention is aimed at propping up the weak Somali government, which is challenged by a powerful Islamic militia.

The State Department says the United States is concerned by the deteriorating security situation in Somalia, and by the humanitarian impact of the fighting. A State Department spokesperson told VOA that Somali civilians should be protected, and that the United States is urging all Somali parties to cease hostile actions.

There was no mention of Ethiopia’s role in the conflict. However, the spokesperson said the United States encourages all sides to return to the negotiating table to find a solution that will bring peace and security to Somalia and the region, mirroring earlier statements from the European Union as well as the Arab League.

So, instead of cheering Ethiopia on as they proceed to destroy an Al-Qaeda aligned Islamofascist militia, the State Department wants them and the Somali government to sit down and talk to them. That’s nice, in fact, that makes about as much sense as the US sitting down with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda after 9/11. The Ethiopians should tell Bush to fark off and mind his own damn business and get back to them when he does something about Iraq.

Unfortunately, this is just another incident among many including the double standard that Israel is subjected to when fighting terrorists, the blind eye to the Iranian takeover of Iraq, the increasing debacle in Afghanistan, and the unwillingness to confront Saudi Arabia that demonstrates the lack of seriousness of the Bush Administration in fighting the War on Islamic Terror. Bush has two years to draw up a serious strategy to combat Islamofascist terrorism or he will be remembered as a failure along the lines of Jimmy Carter and LBJ.

UPDATE: I may have blown this call. The BushRice State Department actually is supporting the good guys here.

The State Department signaled support Tuesday for Ethiopian military operations against Somalia, noting that Ethiopia has had “genuine security concerns” stemming from the rise of Islamist forces in its eastern neighbor.

Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos also said that the Ethiopian military acted at the request of Somalia’s internationally backed secular government, which has been resisting with little success the spreading influence of the more powerful Islamist forces.

Gallegos noted that Ethiopia has said that its action is intended to prevent further aggression by the Islamic Courts militias.

So today at least, the State Department opposes Al-Qaeda. What about tomorrow?

UPDATE II: A Kossack proves why they can’t be trusted with national security.

Basically it comes down to this:

Ethiopia is not acting in the interests of the Somalian people.

Ethiopia is bombing civilian area of Somalia and invading a country that had not attacked them.

The Somalia Transitional Government is a joke to the average Somalian citizen. So why should we back them?

The al-Qaeda claims against the ICU in Somalia comes from dubious sources.

1)It’s not Ethiopia’s job to act in the interests of the Somalian people. It’s Ethiopia’s job to act in the interests of the Ethiopian people.

2) The “civilian areas” being bombed are transit points for jihadis. As for the “not attacking them”, see this:

The Islamists have caused unease in Washington by expressing interest in establishing a “Greater Somalia” that would include ethnic Somali regions of Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.

Obviously if they nip this potential threat in the bud, so be it.

3) The Somali “government” is far more preferable to an Al-Qaeda proxy army running the show, any day of the week.

4) The “dubious sources” are various jihadis coming in from Pakistan, Chechnya, and the Arab states who are coming to fight and martyr themselves for Allah. Obviously if they get the martyrdom they seek now, it will be better for everyone involved, especially the infidels who won’t have to die as a result of the delayed martyrdom.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Christmas Day Post

The contributors would like to wish all of our readers a Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

More on “Liberaltarians”

“Big Tent Democrat” had an interesting diary at Daily Kos about how to neogotiate an alliance with libertarians.

The continuing faux-negotiations of our Lefty wonks with Libertarians is an interesting exercise but it does suffer from a fatal flaw in my view – our Lefty wonks are attributing ideological rigidity to liberal policy prescriptions that simply does not and has never existed. To be a liberal DOES NOT mean being for big government programs, state intervention and single payer healthcare as a matter of ideology. Rather to be a liberal is to to have a set of values and objectives for which good policies to achieve those values and objectives are sought. The policies need not involve state intervention – they need only work.

Okay, so as long as libertarian means are used to achieve leftist ends; we can work together. That’s all fine and good, but what are leftist ends? To answer that, “Big Tent Democrat” links to a piece he/she/it wrote at Talkleft.

We lliberal love our goals – equality, egalitarianism, economic and racial justice and where our goals our mouthed by an ideology, we are more tolerant. We should not be.

To me liberalism can and does embrace economic libertararianism where it meets the goals of liberalism. We are pragmatic. If social justice and economic equality could be reached be cuts in the estate tax, we liberals would support it. We oppose it because it does exactly the opposite.

And here lies the fatal flaw of any leftist-libertarian alliance. The leftist goals are simply incompatable with the main goal of libertarianism, individual freedom. To a libertarian or a classical liberal, the individual is most important. To a leftist or a socialist, the collective is more important.

Social justice and economic equality start from the premise that all people should not only equal opportunity, but an equal result where possible. However, under a capitalist system that promotes individual liberty, there is possible way that an equal result will come about. In addition, to promote “economic equality” usually requires the theft of personal property via taxation in order to be redistributed to the government decided losers in life.

So any leftist-libertarian alliance would do very little, if anything, to protect and expand liberty.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Latest Police Harassment

Radley Balko has the skinny on a series of recurring harassing actions undertaken by the police force against the proprietor of a local bar (including a 90 person SWAT-team raid under the auspices of an “alcohol inspection”) in Manassas Park, VA. The story seems almost too absurd to be true, as the harassment has gone on for over 2 years, and it begs the question why. Of course, money and local big shots are involved, along with an interesting gambling twist, and the possibility of a personal vendetta. The courts have denied said proprietor legal recourse, at least for now. Make sure to read the other posts that he links to, especially the video of the SWAT raid.

More here.

Update: Be sure to check out the comments as Neil Ruttenberg, the father of David Ruttenberg (the proprietor), has left one with quite a bit more information about the court case.

The Congruence of Rights and Utility

At this point in history, the purpose or goal of politics—and, theoretically, politicians—is ostensibly a balancing act: on one hand is the moral obligation to respect the inalienable rights of every individual, with the maintenance of a civilized, peaceful society on the other. Unfortunately, individual liberty is rapidly becoming a nuisance that stands in the way of “progress” and “social justice”, which are clever code words for democratic socialism: coercive redistribution of wealth with the blessing of the majority.

There are, no doubt, well-intentioned individuals who have a utilitarian bent; they simply prioritize differently (incorrectly, in my view), with regard to positive vs. negative freedoms. For instance, take Joe Miller’s argument:

When I say, “Of course redistribution is consistent with autonomy”, I mean that it’s consistent with a notion of positive freedom. Forcing you to give your money to someone else is no different from forcing you to stop hitting the person. Failure to provide certain of his basic needs is exactly as wrong as clubbing him online pharmacy over the head. Both violate his autonomy.

I borrowed the title from an interesting Will Wilkinson post that begins cheapest perscription for xenical with a lengthy quote of Herbert Spencer who—according to Wilkinson—was a pluralist utilitarian.

Assuming it to be in other respects satisfactory, a rule, principle, or axiom, is valuable only in so far as the words in which it is expressed have a definite meaning. The terms used must be universally accepted in the same

sense, otherwise the proposition will be liable to such various constructions, as to lose all claim to the title—a rule. We must therefore take it for granted that when he announced

“the greatest happiness to the greatest number” as the canon of social morality, its originator supposed mankind to be unanimous in their definition of “greatest happiness.”

This was a most unfortunate assumption, for no fact is more palpable than that the standard of happiness is infinitely variable. In all ages—amongst every people—by each class—do we find different notions of it entertained.

Giving leftists the benefit of the doubt (excluding those who, out of pure jealously and spite, want to punish the rich), it seems that their ultimate goal really is “the greatest happiness to the greatest number”; but the means that they prefer not only have failed—and are failing—miserably, those means (coercion, confiscatory taxation, etc.) are intrinsically immoral. So, how can society, via government and politics, achieve “the congruence of rights and utility” without violating the concepts of individual liberty or political and economic freedoms?

The best bet politically is a general, neutral framework of rights that enable harmonious social cooperation in pursuit of one’s good, however one conceives it.


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TSA Violated Privacy Laws

Don’t you feel safer?

Report Says TSA Violated Privacy Law

Secure Flight, the U.S. government’s stalled program to screen domestic air passengers against terrorism watch lists, violated federal law during a crucial test phase, according to a report to be issued today by the Homeland Security Department’s privacy office.

The agency found that by gathering passenger data from commercial brokers in 2004 without notifying the passengers, the program violated a 1974 Privacy Act requirement that the public be made aware of any changes in a federal program that affects the privacy of U.S. citizens. “As ultimately implemented, the commercial data test conducted in connection with the Secure Flight program testing did not match [the Transportation Security Administration’s] public announcements,” the report states.

The story hinges not about whether it’s correct for our TSA to create enormous databases on all air travel passengers in order to increase security, which is something that I doubt they could effectively do anyway. Nor does it hinge on the fact that quite a few people never knew about these databases, and never consented to having their travel habits monitored by the government.

No, in a truly anti-climactic sense, nothing in this story has to do with whether the database should even exist. It has to do with the source of the data for the database.

In 2004, the TSA published a Federal Register notice on a data-test phase of the program, saying that “strict firewalls” would prevent any commercial data from mixing with government data. However, this was based on the notion that the Secure Flight contractor, EagleForce Associates Inc. of McLean, would ensure that no commercial data were used, the report said.

But by the time the EagleForce contract was finalized, “it was clear that TSA would receive commercial data,” the report says. If, for instance, TSA data for an individual passenger lacked an address or date of birth, EagleForce would obtain the missing information from commercial data brokers.

“The fact that EagleForce had access to the commercial data did not create a firewall,” the report says, because under the Privacy Act, in effect, “EagleForce stands in the shoes of TSA.”

It was going to be a “strict firewall”, and if I know our government, maybe the data would have ended up in a “lockbox”. But think about the implications of this. I’m sure the TSA has been less than forthcoming about what exactly goes into this database. But the government, as far as I’m aware, only has certain information about each of us*. With the help of EagleForce, of course, they have access to just about anything. I’m sure that probably includes bank records, credit scores, and a host of other things that have become part of our “targeted-advertising” world. I’m sure if they got a hold of my purchasing history, they’d probably keep a closer eye on me.

This comes on the heels of other fun revelations about the TSA’s privacy-protection philosophy:

Moreover, commercial databases provided Eagle Force with data for some individuals who were not air passengers. These people were never notified — a violation of the privacy act, the report says.

A 2004 probe found that the TSA improperly stored 100 million commercial data records containing personal information on passengers after the agency said no data storage would occur.

Commercial data information on people who don’t fly, that’s saved into a database that’s not supposed to exist. I’m sure this does wonders for improving air safety. Especially after Flight 93, which was a signal to every terrorist in the world that they’ll be unsuccessful due not to air marshals or the TSA, but due to actions of ordinary passengers.

Of course, much like my post on the War on Sudafed, there’s always some sort of government apologist to explain how this is nothing to worry about, and all is moving forward as planned. And this time, they went straight to the top:

TSA Administrator Kip Hawley said that he supports the use of Secure Flight and that his agency is working closely with other government officials to ensure it protects privacy. “We are working in a transparent way,” Hawley said, adding that the agency’s “challenging” goal is to roll out the program in 2008.

Yep, move along, nothing to see here. We promise we’ll fix this by rollout.

» Read more

The market at work…

Che Guevara was a murderer and promoted slavery, I’m glad that this has been pulled:

Target Corp said on Friday it had pulled a CD carrying case bearing Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s image after an outcry by critics who label the Marxist revolutionary a murderer and totalitarian symbol.

Target had touted a music disc carrying case for Che admirers emblazoned with the Argentine-born guerrilla’s iconic 1960 portrait by Alberto Diaz, or “Korda.” A set of small earphones was superimposed on the image, suggesting he was tuned in to an iPod or other music player.

“It is never our intent to offend any of our guests through the merchandise we carry,” Target said in a statement. “We have made the decision to remove this item from our shelves and we sincerely apologize for any discomfort this situation may have caused our guests.”

I truly hope that Guevara is burning in hell next to Hitler, Pol Pot, Lenin, Stalin and other collectivist dictators…make room for Castro.

A Victory For Free Speech

A Federal Appeals Court has ruled that a loophole in the McCain-Feingold law allows issue advocacy ads to run during an election campaign:

A divided three-judge court ruled yesterday that ads advocating for an issue and mentioning candidates can run during an election, creating a loophole in the law that sought to control the power of big money in elections.

In a 2 to 1 ruling, the court found that the government had no compelling justification to regulate television ads such as the ones Wisconsin Right to Life Inc. broadcast in July 2004, which advocated stopping congressional filibusters against President Bush’s judicial nominees.

The ads ran when Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) was running for reelection and had opposed some of Bush’s nominees. The ads made no mention of Feingold’s record, instead urging Wisconsin residents to call their senators to express their dissatisfaction.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, joined by U.S. Court of Appeals Judge David B. Sentelle, agreed with Wisconsin Right to Life that ads such as theirs merely advocate a position without trying to criticize the record of a particular candidate.

Not as good as declaring the whole monstrosity that is McCain-Feingold unconstitutional, but it’s a start.

A Kelo Christmas

Suzanne Kelo, the Plaintiff in the now infamous Kelo v. City of New London case has sent a Christmas Card to the people who took her house away:

Here is my house that you did take
From me to you, this spell I make
Your houses, your homes
Your family, your friends
May they live in misery
That never ends.
I curse you all
May you rot in hell
To each of you
I send this spell
For the rest of your lives
I wish you ill
I send this now
By the power of will

Heh. Good for her.

Republican Religious Bigotry

I wrote earlier this month about the Dennis Prager induced hysteria that had arisen regarding the decision by Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, a Muslim, to be sworn in using the Koran at his ceremonial swearing-in as a Congressman in January. This week, a Congressman from my own state of Virginia, Virgil Goode, decided to get involved in this stupid little story as evidenced by this letter to a constituent:

Thank you for your recent communication. When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.

The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran. My response was clear, “As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.” Thank you again for your email and thoughts.

Hmm, well, considering that Virgil’s not a Muslim I’d be surprised to find the Koran in his office anyway. The Washington Post sums this up better than I could:

Forget that Muslims represent a small fraction of immigrants to America. And leave aside the obvious point that Mr. Goode was evidently napping in class the day they taught the traditional American values of tolerance, diversity and religious freedom. This country’s history is rife with instances of uncivil, hateful and violent behavior toward newcomers, be they Jewish, Irish, Italian or plenty of others whose ethnicities did not jibe with some pinched view of what it means to be American. Mr. Goode’s dimwitted outburst of nativism is nothing new.

No, the real worry for the nation is that the rest of the world might take Mr. Goode seriously, interpreting his biased remarks about Muslims as proof that America really has embarked on a civilizational war against Islam. With 535 members, you’d think that Congress would welcome the presence of a single Muslim representative. Whether it can afford a lawmaker of Mr. Goode’s caliber is another question.

Please, America, realize that not everybody in Virginia is as stupid, dimwitted, and bigoted as Virgil Goode. We were once the birthplace of great men like Washington, Jefferson, Henry, Madison, and Mason.

The Mommy State

Just in case you were wondering what life under Clinton II might be like:

WASHINGTON – Sen. Hillary Clinton told a TV audience of 3 million women Wednesday that the nation has “never had a mother” be president.

Appearing on “The View” to push the 10th anniversary reissue of her book “It Takes a Village,” Clinton chatted about family Christmas and raising kids these days.

The former first lady noted, “We’ve never had a mother who ever ran for or held that position.”

I can see it now. An entire nation governed under the rules of “Mother, May I ?”

H/T: QandO

Libertarian Moonbats

Over at, Anthony Gregory wrote a column explaining the differences between libertarians. He starts by touching a bit on the differences between left and right libertarians. Then, he decends into doing what the average minion of Lew Rockwell does best, purge out libertarians who don’t agree with their doctrinaire libertarianism.

He goes to let us know what we are supposed to think on a variety of issues.

First, foreign policy:

Moderate libertarians lament that the U.S. empire has perhaps weakened its legitimacy and standing in the world by overstretching itself in unnecessary wars of choice such as Iraq. Radical libertarians see the entire U.S. empire as a grave threat to liberty and world peace, which must be completely dismantled, along with the standing army, and regard such imperial projects as the Iraq war as acts of murderous aggression consistent with what should be expected from such a military empire.

In other words, we are supposed to not only withdraw from every single foreign country U.S. troops are stationed in; we are to disband the U.S. military as well and rely on part-time militias for defense. That worked so well in the War of 1812 where the British Army proceeded to decimate US forces, which were composed mostly of guess what, militia, in battle after battle. The battles the US did win, on both the land and sea, were won largely by the small and professional army and navy and the army was augmented by professional Indian fighters.

Next up: privatization of state services.

Moderate libertarians think private enterprise is more efficient than the state, and so certain social service functions would be better handled through public-private partnerships or privatization of the provision of these services. Radical libertarians see private enterprise, unlike the state, as moral and, yes, more efficient, and are thus wary of corrupting business by pairing it with state, as well as of the prospect of making the state’s priorities more efficiently managed. State services should not be improved by corporatist deals between business and government, but outright abolished, with all legitimate functions taken over completely by the free market.

The main disagreement here is mostly on political tactics. In the real world, a world where political decisions are influenced by all citizens, including those who don’t agree with us on laissez-faire capitalism; it is always better to accept a decision that moves the ball more toward freedom than statism. It does not serve the purposes of liberty to cry and throw a snit when you can’t move the ball toward liberty all at once, when you can get it moving toward it a little bit more than before.

Next, taxes:

Moderate libertarians think some forms of taxation are much better than others, since they are supposedly fairer and are more efficient ways of collecting revenue. Radical libertarians see taxation as the negation of property rights, to be done away with completely, and do not spend much time proposing new taxes to replace old ones.

If you don’t believe in anarchy and if you have the audacity to believe that government has vital functions that must be funded, you’re a statist. Since taxation is necessary for the legitimate functions of government, we are better off trying to find a way to create a tax system that is fair and restrains government power.

Next, law enforcement:

Moderate libertarians complain that the police waste so many resources on such counterproductive programs as the war on drugs, when they should be doing more to protect our rights. Radical libertarians see government police departments as a threat to liberty in themselves; realize that the evil war on drugs is just what we should expect from socialist provision of law and order; see the prison system, courts and police as systematically criminal and corrupt and understand we’d be safer if we got rid of as much of the state’s involvement in law enforcement as humanly possible. In any event, the state should not be trusted blindly even when it’s doing something “legitimate.”

If we got rid of police and courts, what’s to stop me and my gang of 50 from killing the author, raping his wife, enslaving his children, and stealing his property?

Finally, the role of government:

Moderate libertarians think some functions are so important that the government must handle them – leading to equivocation on important matters like central banking, government road building, eminent domain, taxation, government enforcement of intellectual property, a huge prison system and a military empire. Radical libertarians trust the state least with functions that humans cannot do without.

Nevermind the whole Free Rider Problem.

So-called radical libertarians live in a place called Anarchotopia where there is no state, the market provides everything, and all men hold hands and sing “Kumbaya”. Of course this is absurd. The challenge is to reconcile classical liberal beliefs in an illiberal world and move it more toward liberalism. Just wishing for Anarchotopia or Libertopia, won’t make it so.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

The War on Sudafed

Chris wrote about this a few weeks ago:

But that’s not why its a “problem”; its a problem, because it’s also the primary ingredient in Methamphetamine; and therefore the government has declared war on it…

…declared war, on a nasal decongestant.

The war on some drugs has made getting the actual medications that work, a lovely process where you must give your drivers license to a clerk, where they record and report on your purchases; and in most stores in most states, you can’t purchase more than 1 weeks worth of recommended adult dosage at a time.

Of course, this doesn’t worry too many people. After all, pseudophedrine can be used to make methamphetamine, which is claimed to be the center of an epidemic even beyond the proportions of crack. And it’s just a silly little cold, as far as commentor John is concerned:

Chris: You’re too self-centered and obsessed with yourself. Get over it, man. The pseudo laws are working and today there are fewer labs blowing up all over the place. Stop thinking about your silly cold and be thankful for small things. Begin with your mind.

Yes, because when the government makes something illegal, it’s just a law, and as long as you follow it, nobody gets hurt. Sure, maybe you and your family are forced to suffer through your colds, your allergies, and that’s simply the way it is. Because the scourge of meth is dangerous enough that we need to do whatever it takes to stop it.

And if that requires putting a man in prison because he wanted to buy Claritin D for his son, SO BE IT:

“(I was) made to feel like a criminal — Made to feel low, dirty. Just totally degraded,” recalled Tim Naveau, who says he’ll never forget the hours he spent in Rock Island County Jail — he says all because of his allergies.

“They searched me, made me take my shirt off, my shoes off,” he recounted.

Tim takes one 24-hour Claritin-D tablet just about every day. That puts him just under the legal limit of 75-hundred milligrams of pseudo ephedrine a month. The limit is part of a new law that Quad Cities authorities are beginning to strictly enforce.

The law limits the amount of pseudo ephedrine you can buy. Pseudo ephedrine is an ingredient in medicines like Sudafed and Claritin-D, and it’s also a key ingredient in methamphetamines.

“It’s the only allergy medicine that works for me — for my allergies,” Tim explained.

The only problem is, Tim has a teenaged son who also suffers from allergies. And minors are not allowed to buy pseudo ephedrine.

“I bought some for my boy because he was going away to church camp and he needed it,” he said.

That decision put Tim over the legal limit. Two months later, there was a warrant for his arrest.

Of course, in our world of zero-tolerance, it doesn’t matter that he’s not running a meth lab. It doesn’t matter that Claritin D is the only thing that works for his and his son’s allergies. Tim Naveau is a lawbreaker. He should have suffered through his allergies like any good law-abiding citizen would have.

At least, that’s what the cops say:

Rene Sandoval, Director of the Quad Cities Metropolitan Enforcement Agency — the agency that enforces the law — says it’s meant to catch meth makers, and does.

“We’ve seen a huge decline in methamphetamine labs,” Sandoval said.

But even if you’re not making meth, if you go over that limit — of one maximum strength pill per day — you will be arrested.

“Does it take drastic measures? Absolutely. Have we seen a positive result? Absolutely,” Sandoval stressed.

Yep. It doesn’t matter if you lock up people who are doing nothing worse than trying to alleviate their allergies. It’s worth it.

Hat Tip: Jonathan Wilde at Catallarchy

We Told You So

We, the people opposed to the War on Drugs, told you that your civil liberties would be lost and nothing would be gained. We warned you that each assault on drugs would just make things worse, not better. You didn’t believe us. In fact, you said we were a bunch of druggies that just wanted to be able to smoke dope. And you went right ahead with your drug war, convinced of your righteousness.

When your drug war turned Marijuana into California’s largest cash crop and our National Parks into playgrounds, you said we needed to fight harder. When your war led the drug blackmarket to create crack, a cheaper and much more addictive form of cocaine, you used it to justify more cops, more swat teams, more invasions of our civil liberties.

And now we have reached the point of inanity. In Georgia, in the fight against drugs, we have made it illegal to sell someone bhutane, cold medicine and matches to the same person at the same time. Silly, you say? Well, it is one of the consequences of your War on Drugs.

In most states you must show ID to purchase pseudo-ephedrine because it is used to make meth. By Federal law you can only purchase a specific, very small, amount of pseudo-ephedrine per week. This leads to extreme silliness. And we told you it wouldn’t help, as Radley Balko discusses in his Fox column this week.

Critics like me complained that the laws wouldn’t solve the meth problem, they would only invite new suppliers into thse communities – all while inconveniencing consumers. These measures might dry up homemade labs – and admittedly, they did – but they would create a market for purer, more potent meth from Mexico, along with the attendant crime that comes with an international, black market drug trade.

Yeah, I remember saying such things and being told I was silly, it was all part of our grand War on Drugs. We had to do it for the children, you said. Well, there was an interesting outcome.

Sure enough, we now see in early-adopting states like Oklahoma that meth is as prevalent and available as ever. In fact, it’s more potent, which means it’s creating more addicts. And as predicted, police are tracing the new stuff back to Mexico. So instead of some loser mixing up a personal supply of meth in his basement, the state’s now flush with a more toxic for of the drug, pushed by international smugglers.

Oh good, we contributed to the trade deficit, another of your bogeymen. More importantly, we know that terrorist groups are using drug sales for financing. So, we took money from basement meth labs and handed it to international cartels and, in turn, to terrorist organizations. Beautiful.

In the words of the A Team’s Hannibal, “I love it when a plan comes together”.

Farm Subsidies Destroying The Family Farm

In yet another installment of its to-date-excellent series on farm subsidies, the Washington Post shows that the very farm subsidies that proponents call necessary to protect family farms are, in fact, destroying them:

The cornerstone of the multibillion-dollar system of federal farm subsidies is an iconic image of the struggling family farmer: small, powerless against Mother Nature, tied to the land by blood.

Without generous government help, farm-state politicians say, thousands of these hardworking families would fail, threatening the nation’s abundant food supply.

“In today’s fast-paced, interconnected world, there are few industries where sons and daughters can work side-by-side with moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas,” Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said last year. “But we still find that today in agriculture. . . . It is a celebration of what too many in our country have forgotten, an endangered way of life that we must work each and every day to preserve.”

Reality, however, tells a far different story:

Today, most of the nation’s food is produced by modern family farms that are large operations using state-of-the-art computers, marketing consultants and technologies that cut labor, time and costs. The owners are frequently college graduates who are as comfortable with a spreadsheet as with a tractor. They cover more acres and produce more crops with fewer workers than ever before.

The very policies touted by Congress as a way to save small family farms are instead helping to accelerate their demise, economists, analysts and farmers say. That’s because owners of large farms receive the largest share of government subsidies. They often use the money to acquire more land, pushing aside small and medium-size farms as well as young farmers starting out.

Another government program that achieves the opposite of it’s intended purpose. What a surprise.

Quote of the Day

I am passionate about my commitment to limited government and freedom. I simply know that you can not have unlimited opportunity and unlimited government. Although today I view the terrorist threat from this radical strain of Islam to be the greatest threat to my country and my family, I frankly view the second greatest threat as a federal government that has grown too large, too intrusive, too powerful and too expensive. Since I’ve got into the daddy business 4½ years ago, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the next generation. And we know if we don’t reform the big three entitlement programs, the next generation is going to face a rather nasty fiscal fork in the road. The bottom line is, for all intents and purposes, there will be no federal government in one generation except Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security or we’re going to have to double taxes. I find both of those untenable.

–Texas Congressman and incoming chairman of the Republican Study Committee Jeb Hensarling in an interview on December 18,2006.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Barry Goldwater Spins In His Grave

President Bush has officially abandoned the idea that the Republican Party believes in economic freedom:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President George W. Bush said on Wednesday that he supports a Democratic proposal to increase the U.S. minimum wage but said it should be coupled with tax and regulatory relief for small businesses.

“I believe we should do it in a way that does not punish the millions of small businesses that are creating most of the new jobs in our country,” Bush told a news conference. “So, I support pairing it with targeted tax and regulatory relief to help these small businesses stay competitive and to help keep our economy growing.”

How about just leaving business alone to begin with ?

H/T: Club For Growth

What Conservatives Believe (Today, At Least)

In Human Events, Terence P. Jeffrey outlines the latest definition of principles of American Conservatism.

1. God’s Law Governs Nations as Well as Men.

The Ten Commandments should not only be enshrined in our courthouses, they should be engraved in our hearts and minds as guides to all behavior, public and private. As the Founders acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence, laws and policies that violate the natural law are abuses of government power that must be resisted and reversed.

Jeffrey confuses the Deism of our founding fathers with the “Judeo-Christian” beliefs that American conservatives seem to love so much. Natural rights can be derived either from our Creator or from reason. The United States was not established to be a Christian nation and Christ’s teachings were not targeted to nations, they were targeted to individuals. While it is important that the state acknowledges our natural rights, it is a stretch to claim that posting the Ten Commandments on a courthouse lawn is part of them.

2. Life Is the First God-Given Right

It’s always wrong to deliberately take an innocent human life. When this principle is abridged, violence escalates. Thus we have aborted 47 million unborn babies in the past three decades, begun to accept euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide, and stand at the threshold of cloning human beings for the specific purpose of killing them.

While the right to life one of the most important rights we have as human beings, I would argue the right to liberty is the most important. While I do agree it is wrong to deliberately to take an innocent human life, the state is equally wrong to violate the right to liberty to prevent the loss of life through self-inflicted stupid acts (such as drug overdoses, suicide, obesity, etc.). This would lead down the road to a nanny state.

3. Marriage and Family Come Before the State and Deserve Its Protection

The marriage of one man and one woman is the natural foundation of all human society, and the means by which children ought to be brought into the world and taught the basic values of our civilization. Government has a duty to recognize and protect the family and must not grant alternative relationships the same status and privileges.

The actions of the state are more harmful to marriage and the family than any actions of homesexuals could ever be. The state undermines the family through government education via the government schools, an unbearable tax code, no fault divorce laws, and finally through the state sanctioning of marriage itself, among other things. If Jeffrey is concerned about protecting the family, he should be screaming from the rooftops that government should get out of the marriage business and that the church should resume its role as the guardian of marriage. While the state should not be in the marriage business, the state should not descriminate on the basis of gender and sexuality in legal contracts allowing couples inherit property, hospital visits, and other legal procedures.

4. Freedom of Conscience is the Soul of Liberty

Understanding that freedom of conscience is at the heart of liberty, the Framers protected freedom of religion and assembly in the 1st Amendment. Movements to force the Boy Scouts to accept homosexual scout masters, or to compel religious individuals or organizations to distribute birth control or abortion drugs against their beliefs, directly attack these freedoms.

I would add to this allowing our lawmakers to swear their oaths on whichever holy book they believe in.

5. Private Property is the Servant of Freedom

The more that individuals, families and businesses can acquire and control the goods necessary to sustain and advance themselves, the more autonomy they will have from the state and others who may wish to unjustly restrict their freedom. The free and responsible use of private property tends to create greater wealth and greater freedom for greater numbers of people.

6. Government Dependency is the Seed of Tyranny

The more that individuals, families and businesses are dependent on the state for the goods necessary to sustain and advance themselves, the less autonomy they will have from the state and others who may wish to unjustly restrict their freedom. This is why expanding the welfare state is bad, and Social Security personal retirement accounts, Health Savings Accounts and school choice are good.

These could two ideas could not have been stated better.

7. The Constitution Means What It Says

Believing in the God-given rights of man and understanding the imperfect nature of human beings, the Framers crafted a Constitution designed to protect the former from the latter. Many of the problems in U.S. government would be resolved if the President, Congress and Courts limited themselves and each other to the authority the Constitution actually grants them.

I think this is one of the main reasons why conservatives and libertarians have always been more or less aligned politically; we both understand the imperfect nature of human beings and we have a natural distrust of government.

8. Taxes Are Justified Only to Fund Necessary Government Spending

A massive and complex tax code has become a powerful weapon politicians can use to pressure citizens to behave as the politicians, or the interest groups that support the politicians, wish. The correct function of taxation is to equitably collect only that revenue needed to fund the legitimate activities of a constitutionally limited government.

I’m curious to think what Jeffrey thinks about Faith Based programs that the current “conservative” president loves so much.

9. National Defense Is Just That

The first duty of the federal government is to defend the American people against foreign enemies. While advancing freedom in the world is good in itself—and, where it prudently can be done, would advance the interests of the United States–ultimately, the mandate for our national leaders is to use whatever moral means they can to carve out that path in our relations with foreign powers that is most likely to lead to enhanced security, prosperity and freedom for this nation.

The Weekly Standard’s contributors won’t like this one very much.

10. We Should Strive to Give Our Children a Better Country

America is more than just an expanse of territory or a set of laws. It is a culture, whose art, architecture, journalism, music, movies, television, schools and universities, should reflect and reinforce the traditional values that made this country great. We owe this to our children, who will build the America of tomorrow on the foundation of the America we teach them to love today.

Unfortunately, this principle lays out what I believe some of the contradictions of the conservative philosophy. Conservatism attempts to be a philosophy of both politics and life. The conservative value on tradition unfortunately at times contradicts and compromises their belief in limited government. Whereas the classical liberal philosophy is purely a political philosophy and there is no contradiction that would compromise the belief in limited government.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Building a Better Mousetrap Pot Plant

Mexican Soldiers Find Hybrid Pot Plants

Thousands of soldiers sent to seize control of one of Mexico’s top drug-producing regions have discovered widespread cultivation of a hybrid marijuana plant that is easy to grow and difficult to kill, officials said Tuesday.

The plants can only be killed by having their roots pulled, a slow and tedious task, Army Gen. Manuel Garcia told The Associated Press, one of four media outlets allowed to accompany soldiers on the daylong raid.

“Before we could cut the plant and destroy it, but this plant will come back to life unless it’s taken out by the roots,” Garcia said.

The hybrid first appeared in Mexico two years ago but has become the plant of choice for drug traffickers in western Michoacan state, a remote mountainous region that lends to itself to drug production.

The plants resist chemicals that only burn the top leaves without hurting the root, making aerial fumigation impossible, Garcia said.

Does anyone think for a second that this would have happened without a ridiculous drug war causing the pot business to be extremely profit-laden?

In one sense, it’s a reminder of just how ingenious the market can be when providing a desired product, even if it’s illegal. On another sense, I get a bit worried when people are creating plants that won’t die. It reminds me of the plant that ate the South…

Hat Tip: Control Congress

Libertarianism and Utilitarianism

In the comments to my last post, one of our regular commenters asked a very interesting question:

“Libertarianism is a moral system, valuing individual liberty as it’s highest ideal.”

I have finally gotten an answer. When seen in that light it changes many debates. We must discuss just what is an unalienable right, and does it have value. What defines a moral system if “the good” isn’t it goal? What purpose does that system have, if it is not how we live in a society?

VRB has inadvertently touched on a major philosophical split. She asks what defines a moral system if not “the good”. What she is talking about is utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is also a moral philosophy, but unlike libertarianism it seeks to maximize utility (“the good”) rather than liberty.

To better understand, the American Constitution is a document that enshrines the libertarian ideal. It is a document that does very little to provide for the “common good”, preferring a hands-off approach by government and letting people work out the “common good” through voluntary means if they so choose. Socialism, in all its forms, is a system of government that enshrines a utilitarian ideal. It is willing to submit freedom to providing for the “common good”. Our current American government is a mix between the two. The progressive taxation and welfare system attempts to be utilitarian, submitting the liberty to keep what you earn to the need of those who are of low income. However, there is still a very strong libertarian streak in the way our government works, suggesting that some liberties (like the protections in the Bill of Rights) are so important that they cannot be submitted to the “common good”.

But I think VRB has figured out one of the reasons why it can be difficult for many non-libertarians to debate libertarians. It’s a question of first principles. There are a lot of arguments in favor of libertarianism, and there are a lot of arguments in favor of utilitarianism. There are great thinkers on both sides. But the two are completely different moral systems, with completely different ends. When I, as a libertarian, argue with a utilitarian, my appeals to liberty carry little weight. When a utilitarian argues with me, their appeals to the “common good” carry little weight. Most people in this country have been taught, through our wonderful public education system, that utility should trump liberty.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we cannot find some agreement. Many of us who are libertarians also believe that libertarian policies will work better than letting the government define the “common good” and enforce it. In essence, I believe that libertarianism is usually much more utilitarian than socialism. Libertarianism is the credo of the free market, and the free market has done much more to increase utility than socialism ever will, simply due to human nature. When arguing against something like universal health care, it can be attacked both due to its denial of freedom and due to the fact that it’s less likely to maximize utility than a free market approach.

But sometimes there must be a choice. Sometimes liberty and utility are at odds with each other. At that point, the question becomes who you trust. In society, the agent opposite liberty is government, and if you want to enforce a policy of maximizing utility, it is government that enforces that policy. I have very little faith in government to maximize utility, and thus I still choose liberty.

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