Monthly Archives: December 2006

Is The Libertarian Party Worthless ?

That’s what Bruce Bartlett argues in this essay at Human Events:

The basic problem with the Libertarian Party is the same problem faced by all third parties: It cannot win. The reason is that under the Constitution a candidate must win an absolute majority in the all-important Electoral College. It won’t do just to have the most votes in a three- or four-way race. You have to have at least 270 electoral votes to win, period.

Theoretically, this is no barrier to third parties at the state and local level. But in practice, if a party cannot win at the presidential level, it is very unlikely to achieve success at lower levels of government. In short, the Electoral College imposes a two-party system on the country that makes it prohibitively difficult for third parties to compete.

On the whole, I think Bartlett is correct. Like it or not, the political system that the Constitution, and our history, has created overwhelmingly favors a two-party system to such an extent that truly successful third-parties have only arisen in situations where one of the two main parties was in a state of crisis.

The Whig Party came out of the ashes of the Federalists. The Republicans arose in part from the ashes of the Whigs. Apart from that, there has been no third-party that has been anything other than a flash-in-the-pan. Had Teddy Roosevelt defeated Woodrow Wilson in the 1912 election, it’s likely that the Progressive Party a/k/a the Bull Moose Party would have supplanted the Republicans, but, other than that, there has been no serious challenge to the two-party system since the 1860 Presidential Election. That’s 146 years folks.

Bartlett goes on to point out something that has been my pet peeve for years. Even when it gets media attention the Libertarian Party seems to blow it. The reason for that is that, quite honestly, the LP is often the haven of gadflys. With the exception of Ron Paul, who returned to the Republican Party, I don’t think I can name one Libertarian Presidential Candidate that I can honestly say would have been qualified to fill the office he was running for.

So, if not the Libertarian Party, then what ?

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The Tyranny Of The Majority

As both Adam and Brad have noted, I stirred up quite a little hornet’s nest with my post earlier today addressing a liberal leftist who didn’t really seem to understand (or respect) libertarian thought.

I had hoped, perhaps naively, that it would result in a serious debate and exchange of ideas. Instead, in my absence during the day, it quickly devolved into a name-calling contest in which Brad and others were denounced as trolls rather than given the respect that someone with ideas deserves. As Adam said, had Ms. O’Brien or her readers come here and commented, I have no doubt they would have been treated with far more respect than they gave to their opponent on their home turf.

What these people seem to continually forget, is the fact that democratic majorities can be as tyrannical as the most despotic dictator. John Stuart Mill put it best in his great 1859 work On Liberty when he said:

The will of the people, moreover, practically means the will of the most numerous or the most active part of the people; the majority, or those who succeed in making themselves accepted as the majority; the people, consequently, may desire to oppress a part of their number; and precautions are as much needed against this as against any other abuse of power. The limitation, therefore, of the power of government over individuals loses none of its importance when the holders of power are regularly accountable to the community, that is, to the strongest party therein.

In other words, the mere fact that the men and women who make government policy are elected by a democratic means, rather than inheriting their position by royal blood or privilege, or by blood, does not mean that the policies they enact cannot be oppressive. In fact, when government is put in the hands of a majority by democracy, it is often more oppressive than its non-democratic predecessors might be. Jim Crow laws, to pick just one example, were not imposed by Kings or Premiers; they were voted into law by men elected by a majority of the eligible voters of the Southern United States.

This is why the Constitution created a government of limited power. The Founding Fathers knew that unlimited power, even in the hands of a democratically elected government, could be the path to tyranny and despotism

Unfortunately, some people don’t seem to recognize that idea:

If We, the People, want to promote the general Welfare by initiating taxpayer funded universal health care, for example, ain’t nothin’ in the Constitution that says we can’t have it. People opposed to it can argue about why they think universal health care is not a good use of taxpayer dollars, and then the voters can decide which way they want to go. But when such a program is nixied purely on some ideological dogmas about “big government,” that’s essentially an argument against republican government, and against democracy itself. It’s an argument that says people may not govern themselves, and it’s a violation of the principles on which this nation was founded.

And there lies the fundamental problem that the author just does not understand. The Constitution and Bill of Rights clearly stand for the principle that if it isn’t in the Constitution, then the Federal Government can’t do it.

More importantly, though, it makes clear the point that, without limited government, individual liberty cannot survive for very long.

Should The Government Force You To Vaccinate Your Children ?

That question is raised by reports that, starting in January, several counties in Maryland will bar students from public school who haven’t been vaccinated for Chicken Pox and Hepatitis B:

Thousands of Maryland students could be barred from classes after the holiday break because they have not been vaccinated against chickenpox and hepatitis B, as required by the state’s latest immunization schedule.

Local health departments and school systems have sent repeated notices on these sixth- through ninth-graders, made follow-up calls in numerous jurisdictions, run ads on radio and in community newspapers and offered free clinics. But response continues to lag as the Jan. 2 “exclusion date” nears.

Students who return to school next month without a record of being immunized — or, in the case of chickenpox, without the month-and-year documentation of when they had the disease — by law should be kept from attending school. The only exception would be those who arrive with proof of a pending medical appointment to get the shots. Their grace period ends Jan. 22.

And the requirement will expand. By 2009, all students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 will be required to have been vaccinated for these two disease before being allowed entry into the public schools.

The question, though, is whether the government even has the right to force parents do vaccinate their children. The only justification, of course, is if the disease in question is a threat to public health. Except in rare circumstances, though, Chicken Pox is not a fatal disease in children or even adults, although it can have a more devastating impact if you are infected when you’re older. Hepatitis B is a more serious matter, of course, but is not easy to transmit.

Given this, it’s hard to see why, beyond accepting the idea of the government as the nanny deciding who should be vaccinated against what and when, parents should be forced to have their children vaccinated against either of these diseases.

Who do you trust more to make the right medical decisions for their children, parents or a bureaucrat at HHS ?

On the whole, I’m more apt to trust the parent.

Libertarianism and Democracy

By now, of course, you’ve all seen this:

I still say that libertarianism and “limited government” ideology is essentially anti-democratic. It deprives We, the People of the ability to use government in our own interests. Certainly the powers of government must be limited — the power to censor, the power to search and seize property, the power to intrude on citizens’ private lives generally — but placing artificial limits on the size and functions of government doesn’t restrict government as must as it restricts the will of the people. I’m not calling for “big government” for its own sake. I’m just saying that a government should be as big (or as small) as its citizens require.

I’d like to let it go. It’s clear, from this post and another, that this blogger understands neither libertarianism nor democracy. But sometimes I just can’t help myself.

Libertarianism isn’t anti-Democracy. In fact, the statement itself is nonsensical. Libertarianism is a moral system, valuing individual liberty as it’s highest ideal. Democracy is a form of government, consisting of majority rule. Or, to make it more plain, liberty is an end, democracy is a means to an end.
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I Thought About It

I thought about responding to the Maha Blog after this post and comment thread. In the course of the thread, Maha decided to censor two Liberty Papers contributors, including myself and Brad. She also removed a comment from “Mycroft Holmes” without comment at all when he had the temerity to point out that she had a strange way of defending liberty (which she claims to do).

I thought about a lot of things, but decided that you folks are bright enough to be able to figure things out on your own. For example, I decided you could see through the so-called liberalism of her blog to the actual populism. Like the idea that we shouldn’t bother with an amendment process because that would just “get in the way” of doing what the people want. Never mind all the examples in history of tyranny and oppression brought about by not obstructing the “will of the people”. Just one example.

Both Maha, and her fan club, oppose W and Co for their increase in oppression, failing to notice that their populist socialism is oppressive as well. Ah well.

Maha decided to call Brad and I trolls when we insisted on publicly debating her. She decided that the conversation went “right over our head” when we disagreed with her. Check it out for yourself, if you are so inclined. If I really wanted to, I could keep commenting on her blog through the simple expedient of using a different name and email address and a web proxy to change my IP address. But, it just isn’t worth my time at this point.

One last thought. If Maha should choose to come to The Liberty Papers and discuss her position, we will provide an uncensored environment for the discussion. No one’s comments are ever removed, except actual spam. No matter how much we dislike what she says, no matter how many comments she posts, she will not have her comments removed. Even when the contributors here have vehemently disagreed with commenters (John Newman, for example), they have never censored. I wonder if she understands the irony of censoring “Mycroft Holmes”?

The Real Target of Kyoto

I’ve long thought that the Kyoto treaty was created by the “watermelon” type of environmentalist, the type who is just as much anti-capitalism and anti-America as pro-environment. But something has always made me wonder about it, and I asked why Europe would be so quick to rip their own economies to shreds just to hurt ours more. I secretly thought that Europe might have been glad that America stood up and shot it down, because it saved the Europeans from their own treaty while turning the US into an easy scapegoat to blame for it not passing. I was far from the truth.

As Warren of Coyote Blog points out, they wouldn’t really have affected their own economies. They picked the date of “going back to 1990 levels” for a reason, and that was due to the fact that it was a localized high point for the rest of the world, and a localized low point for the US. It wouldn’t have hurt their economies much, but would have drastically affected ours.

The reason for the 1990 date was all about counting coup on the United States. The date was selected by the European negotiators who dominated the treaty process specifically to minimize the burden on Europe and maximize the burden on the US. Look at the numbers above. The negotiators had the 1990-1995 numbers in hand when they crafted the treaty and had a good sense of what the 1995-2000 numbers would look like. They knew that at that point in time, getting to 1990 levels for the EU was no work — they were already there — and that it would be a tremendous burden for the US. Many holier-than-thou folks in this country have criticized the US for not signing Kyoto. But look at what we were handed to sign – a document that at the point of signing put no burden on the EU, little burden on Japan, no burden on the developing world, and tremendous burden on the US. We were handed a loaded gun and asked to shoot ourselves with it. Long before Bush drew jeers for walking away from the treaty, the Senate voted 99-0 not to touch the thing until it was changed.

This is something that is typical of progressive Europeans and Americans alike. It’s really easy to do what’s politically correct when it’s someone else’s money that’s bankrolling it. And as with most leftist causes, it doesn’t really matter whether the proposed action will achieve its objectives, again because it’s paid for with someone else’s money.

Why The Republicans Lost Part V

Michael Gerson, a former policy advisor and speech writer for President Bush, looks at the results of November’s elections, and concludes that the GOP should abandon it’s limited government philosophy:

Campaigning on the size of government in 2008, while opponents talk about health care, education and poverty, will seem, and be, procedural, small-minded, cold and uninspired. The moral stakes are even higher. What does antigovernment conservatism offer to inner-city neighborhoods where violence is common and families are rare? Nothing. What achievement would it contribute to racial healing and the unity of our country? No achievement at all. Anti-government conservatism turns out to be a strange kind of idealism—an idealism that strangles mercy.

No, the idealism comes from those who look at the state and see the solution to all of our problems, despite the fact that history demonstrates over and over again that there are just some things that the government is incapable of doing correctly.

If this is the future of the GOP, then Bob Barr may not be the only one leaving.
Previous Posts:

Why The Republicans Lost
Why The Republicans Lost Part II
Why The Republicans Lost Part III
Why The Republicans Won’t Recover
Why Republicans Need Libertarians
Why The Republicans Lost Part IV

Life In Prison For Smoking Pot

Via Reason’s Hit & Run, comes news of a 33 year old man currently being held in prison on a life sentence imposed when he was caught smoking marijuana:

In 1990, Tyrone Brown, then 17 years old, took part in a $2 Dallas stickup in which no one was hurt. He got caught, pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, and received a sentence of 10 years probation. A few weeks later, he was in court again — because a drug test detected the presence of marijuana in his urine. For still unexplained reasons, his sentencing judge, Keith Dean, threw the book at him. The 17-year-old was resentenced to life in prison, where he remains to this day.

And if you think that makes no sense, consider what the same judge did in another case of a probationer caught smoking marijuana:

While Brown got 10-year suspended sentence for the robbery, [John Alexander] Wood got a 10-year suspended sentence for murdering a prostitute. When Brown tested positive for pot, Judge Dean sent him to prison for life. When Wood repeatedly tested positive for cocaine and got arrested for cocaine possession, Judge Dean didn’t jail him for life. Instead, he let Wood stay a free man and even exempted him from having to take drug tests or meet a probation officer.

In that article, Judge Dean refused to discuss the two cases, saying he might have to rule on them again. But he told the Morning News that he generally tried to evaluate “the potential danger to the community” and “what, in the long run, is going to be in the best interest of the community and the person themselves.”

Yes, because a guy who murders prostitutes isn’t a danger at all.

Pressure is growing on Texas Governor Rick Perry to commute Brown’s sentence. It would seem that justice demands it.

That’s Exactly The Point

Barbara O’Brien, a liberal who blogs at The Mahablog, distills, quite unknowingly, the essence of libertarianism:

I still say that libertarianism and “limited government” ideology is essentially anti-democratic. It deprives We, the People of the ability to use government in our own interests. Certainly the powers of government must be limited — the power to censor, the power to search and seize property, the power to intrude on citizens’ private lives generally — but placing artificial limits on the size and functions of government doesn’t restrict government as must as it restricts the will of the people.

And what’s so wrong about that ? What makes the “will of the people” any more valid than the Divine Right of Kings ? Even in a democratic society, government needs to be limited precisely because unfettered power in the hands of the majority will, inevitably, lead to oppression of some minority somewhere. My rights should not be subject to your vote.

Does Ms. O’Brien really believe that there shouldn’t be any limits on the will of the people ? If she does, then we’ve got to toss out most of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, because that’s precisely what they do.

Then, again, maybe that’s precisely what she and her progressive allies want.

H/T: The QandO Blog

Politics Trumps Ethics… As Usual

When FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell went through his confirmation hearings, it was made very clear that he would be expected not to rule on any deals related to his previous lobbying clients. These clients included both AT&T and BellSouth, companies which are attempting to gain government approval for a merger.

So McDowell is standing up to his promise, and has said he won’t take part in the proceedings. Unfortunately, though, the proceedings are deadlocked between the Republican and Democrat factions. So what do the FCC’s lawyers say? “Go ahead, because political expediency is more important than any assurance of objectivity.”

But despite his concern about a possible conflict of interest, the FCC’s general counsel, Samuel Feder, ruled this month that McDowell could take part because of an overriding government interest in breaking the deadlock.

McDowell rejected that reasoning and criticized Feder’s opinion for overlooking important facts and legal considerations. In particular, he faulted the opinion for not addressing the ethics agreement reached during his Senate confirmation process this year in which he pledged not to participate for a year in any matter in which Comptel had been involved.

“While I expected the legal equivalent of body armor, I was handed Swiss cheese,” McDowell said.

FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin, who asked Feder to issue the opinion, has been urging McDowell to take part in the considerations. Late yesterday, Martin said his aim had been to make sure the commission considered the merger in a timely fashion.

Yep. You heard them. It doesn’t matter if the decision is right, just as long as it’s fast.

Marijuana: America’s Biggest Cash Crop

Just in case you thought America’s biggest cash crop was wheat, corn, or soybeans, the L.A. Times reports today that the money brought in by marijuana beats them all:

SACRAMENTO — For years, activists in the marijuana legalization movement have claimed that cannabis is America’s biggest cash crop. Now they’re citing government statistics to prove it.

A report released today by a marijuana public policy analyst contends that the market value of pot produced in the U.S. exceeds $35 billion — far more than the crop value of such heartland staples as corn, soybeans and hay, which are the top three legal cash crops.

(…)

Nationwide, the estimated cannabis production of $35.8 billion exceeds corn ($23 billion), soybeans ($17.6 billion) and hay ($12.2 billion), according to Gettman’s findings.

And, though this should hardly be surprising to anyone who hasn’t partaken of the Drug War Kool-Aid:

The report estimates that marijuana production has increased tenfold in the past quarter century despite an exhaustive anti-drug effort by law enforcement.

Well, what do you know about that.

Perhaps the way to help America’s farmers is to declare a War on Soybeans.

Just How Libertarian Is Bob Barr ?

Jacob Sullum points to this Reason interview with new Libertarian Party member and former Congressman Bob Barr, and wonders just how libertarian Barr really is:

Sullum points specifically, to this part of the inteview:

reason: In 2002, the Libertarian Party called you the worst drug warrior in Congress. No hard feelings?

Barr: To be honest with you that’s never come up in our discussions. I’m not going to let minor disagreements come between us.

reason:
But you haven’t changed your mind on the drug war, or on gay marriage? [Barr sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.]

Barr: There are going to be differences with my colleagues in the Libertarian Party. I can’t imagine there is ever going to be a party I agree with 100 percent of time. What I’m interested in is a party honestly committed to liberty and true checks and balances on government power. That’s something lacking in our current party system. With regard to gay marriage and the Federal Marriage Amendment, in my view the FMA does nothing except to protect liberty of citizens of each state on what basis they want to recognize marriage. Are there some libertarians who believe differently? I’m sure there are, and I’m sure we’ll engage in some debates down the road. I’m not going to let nuanced differences on aspects of particular policies stand in the way of the most important mission. That’s ensuring our liberties and protecting the Constitution.

To which Sullum responds:

[I]t’s hard for me to see how a libertarian (or Libertarian) can support drug prohibition. Contrary to what he says in the interview, this is no “minor disagreement.” Not only does the war on drugs directly violate the basic right to control one’s body and mind; it leads to exactly the sort of wide-ranging civil liberties violations, especially in connection with Fourth Amendment rights, that so concern Barr when it comes to the war on terrorism and at least protecting us from hijackers and suicide bombers, unlike maintaining the purity of our bodily fluids, is a legitimate function of government. Barr’s stance is especially puzzling given that a number of prominent conservatives, including the National Review crowd, have turned against the war on drugs even without switching their party registrations.

To be fair to Barr, it’s hard to tell from the interview if this “minor differences” and “nuanced differences on aspects of particular policies” he refers to are about the War on Drugs or same-sex marriage. I agree with Sullum, though, it’s hard to see how somebody could call themselves a small-l or Big-L libertarian and support the War on Drugs. For that matter, I think it would be hard to reconcile opposition to marriage equality with a libertarian philosophy.

Barr’s decision to join the Libertarian Party is intriguing, and may signal to the GOP that it needs to move in a more libertarian direction, but, as for Barr himself, I am reserving judgment.

Related Posts:

Bob Barr Joins The Libertarian Party
Bob Barr Explains Why He Joined The Libertarian Party

Should Taxpayers Foot The Bill For Rescues ?

Much of the news over the weekend focused on the search for three missing climbers lost on Oregon’s Mt. Hood. In watching the coverage last night, a question came to my mind — why should the government (read: taxpayers) foot the bill to rescue people who knowingly put themselves in dangerous situations ?

Consider, for a second, the scope of the rescue operation:

Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and a C-130 cargo plane from Nevada were to continue searching around the clock in 12-hour shifts, Sgt. Sean Collinson of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said. The C-130 has infrared imaging equipment that can sense body heat.

Additionally, the Oregon National Guard is heavily involved in the rescue attempts.

Don’t get me wrong. I am in favor of these men getting rescued and it was sad to learn last night that at least one of them had died. Hopefully, the remaining two will be found safe.

Nor am I saying that rescue attempts in situations like this, by both government and volunteer organizations, should not be made. Of course they should, the fact that we do them is an indication of just how precious one human life is to each of us.

The question is this; Should taxpayers foot the bill when someone who engages in dangerous, some might say reckless, behavior, gets injured or trapped ? Why shouldn’t the people rescued be made to bear at least some of the financial responsibility for rescuing them from the consequences of their own choices ?

I haven’t entirely made up my mind on this issue, but my instincts tell me that if you engage in risky behavior, then you bear some responsibility when the rest of us come to save you.

Bob Barr Explains Why He Joined The Libertarian Party

David Weigel at Reason interviews former Congressman Bob Barr about his recent decision to join the Libertarian Party:

reason: Why did you join the Libertarian Party, and why did you agree to take this role?

Bob Barr: I suppose one reason is I was asked two by two individuals I respect. One is Bill Redpath, the executive director, and the other is Shane Cory. I know both very well. When they asked me to consider it was very important to them. And I chose to join the Libertarian Party because at this time in our nation’s history, it’s fundamentally essential to join a party, work with a party, that’s 100 percent committed to protecting liberty. As great as the Republican Party is — and I have been fortunate to work with that party for many years and still have the highest regard for it — the Constitution is under such assault in this day and age. In order to have any chance of saving the Constitution and our civil liberties, we need a party dedicated to that cause.

(…)

reason: Is there anything in your former party that’s worth saving?

Barr: It’s not just civil liberties, but how liberties are governed. Where you have government that doesn’t obey lays of this nation, we have problem. When you have an administration that decides it doesn’t have to review the decisions of our courts, we have a problem. When you have a Congress exerting no leadership in terms of oversight, we have a problem. The party in power was not providing a solution to those problems. I’ve concluded that the Libertarian Party is the best mechanism for solving them.

Clearly, there is no love lost on Barr’s part for the GOP. Can’t say I blame him.

Related Posts:

Bob Barr Joins The Libertarian Party

Crossing The Line

A teacher in New Jersey is in trouble for talking about God in history class:

KEARNY, N.J. — Before David Paszkiewicz got to teach his accelerated 11th-grade history class about the United States Constitution this fall, he was accused of violating it.

Shortly after school began in September, the teacher told his sixth-period students at Kearny High School that evolution and the Big Bang were not scientific, that dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark, and that only Christians had a place in heaven, according to audio recordings made by a student whose family is now considering a lawsuit claiming Mr. Paszkiewicz broke the church-state boundary.

“If you reject his gift of salvation, then you know where you belong,” Mr. Paszkiewicz was recorded saying of Jesus. “He did everything in his power to make sure that you could go to heaven, so much so that he took your sins on his own body, suffered your pains for you, and he’s saying, ‘Please, accept me, believe.’ If you reject that, you belong in hell.”

The first question I’d ask here, is why did this teacher even think it was appropriate to start talking about evolution, the Big Ban, dinosaurs, Noah’s Ark, and who’s going to heaven in a history class to begin with ? At the very least, he was deviating extremely far from the lesson plan he should’ve been following. At worst, he was preaching to these kids in a way, as a teacher in a public school, he really has no business doing.

More interesting to me, though, is the reaction of some of the teacher’s supporters:

Greice Coelho, who took Mr. Paszkiewicz’s class and is a member of his youth group, said in a letter to The Observer, the local weekly newspaper, that Matthew was “ignoring the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gives every citizen the freedom of religion.”

Sorry, but Mr. Paskiewicz has the right to believe in whatever religion he chooses. What he doesn’t have the right to do is spout off like a Sunday preacher in the middle of history class.

Against Poverty? Then It’s Time To Cut Taxes

In the Christian Science Monitor, Matthew Ladner writes that the key to lower levels of poverty is lower taxes:

A study published last month by the Goldwater Institute, “How to Win the War on Poverty: An Analysis of State Poverty Trends,” tests these different theories by examining state poverty rates from 1990 to 2000.

Nationwide, states took great strides in reducing both general and childhood poverty. Poverty fell by 5.3 percent and childhood poverty by 9.4 percent. Some states, however, reduced poverty much more than others, while some states suffered large increases.

Take Colorado. It reduced its childhood poverty rate by almost 27 percent. Meanwhile, Rhode Island’s childhood poverty rate increased by almost the same amount. What accounts for those differences?

Using data from the Census Bureau, the report found that states with the lowest tax rates enjoyed sizable decreases in poverty. For example, the 10 states with the lowest total state and local tax burdens saw an average poverty reduction of 13 percent – two times better than the national average. The 10 highest-tax states, meanwhile, suffered an average increase in poverty of 3 percent.

Some high-tax states, such as California, Hawaii, and New York, suffered catastrophic increases in poverty. As California began to reject the low-tax legacy of the Reagan governorship, the state’s poverty rate jumped 13 percent in the 1990s.

The connection, of course, is clear. Lower tax rates leader to greater economic growth, which leads to more job opportunities at all levels of the economy. The Democrats will be taking over Congress next month, and have already vowed to roll-back the Bush tax cuts, the one thing the GOP did in the past six years that actually helped the country. If they really cared about the poor, they’d keep them in place and encourage states like California, New York, and Hawaii to follow suit.

Thoughts On The Death Penalty

Yesterday, executions were put on hold in two states over concerns about the manner in which the most common form of execution is administered:

MIAMI, Dec. 15 — Executions by lethal injection were suspended in Florida and ordered revamped in California on Friday, as the chemical method once billed as a more humane way of killing the condemned came under mounting scrutiny over the pain it may cause.

Gov. Jeb Bush (R) ordered the suspension in Florida after a botched execution in which it took 34 minutes and a second injection to kill convicted murderer Angel Nieves Diaz. A state medical examiner said that needles used to carry the poison had passed through the prisoner’s veins and delivered the three-chemical mix into the tissues of his arm.

In California, a federal judge ruled that the state must overhaul its lethal-injection procedures, calling its current protocol unconstitutional because it may inflict unacceptable levels of pain.

These are the latest developments in a year that has seen several challenges to the way executions are conducted in the United States:

In Maryland, a federal judge is considering the constitutionality of lethal injection. A ruling is expected next year. Officials in Missouri and South Dakota have delayed executions while lethal injection is reviewed. Oklahoma altered its procedure so that the prisoner receives more anesthesia before being executed. And in North Carolina, a federal judge ordered that a brain monitor be used to make sure an inmate is unconscious before the final drug is administered.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed another Florida death-row inmate to challenge that state’s lethal-injection procedures through a federal civil rights lawsuit, a ruling considered a procedural victory for opponents of the death penalty.

I’ve generally always been supportive of the death penalty in appropriate circumstances, but I’ve recently been having second thoughts that lead me to wonder if the state really does have the right to execute even the most violent of murderers. There are two basic areas that concern me, one based on the Constitution, and one based, in part, on what I know the legal system is actually like rather than what it should be.
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Bob Barr Joins the Libertarian Party

If Ken Mehlman, Mel Martinez, and the various mental midgets running for president on the Republican side had any sense, they would be very worried about this development. Former Congressman Bob Barr has now officially left the Republican Party and joined the Libertarian Party. The only question to be asked is how many limited government conservatives are going to go with him.

From the Libertarian Party’s website.

On Tuesday evening, former Congressman Bob Barr, a Life Member of the Libertarian Party, was offered the position of Regional 4 Representative of the Libertarian National Committee.

The state chairs of Region 4, which is made up of Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama met via teleconference to discuss the matter after the recent resignation of Mark Bodenhausen for medical reasons.

The state leaders enthusiastically endorsed Barr as their representative to lead them into the 2008 presidential election season.

In addition to having served eight years in the House of Representatives, Barr serves as a Board Member of the National Rifle Association and is Chairman of Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances. He also is a member of The Constitution Project’s Initiative on Liberty and Security at Georgetown University. He advises a variety of public policy organizations, including the American Conservative Union and the American Civil Liberties Union. Barr is President and CEO of Liberty Strategies, an Atlanta-based consulting firm with offices in the Washington, DC area. He practices both civil and criminal law.

LNC Chair William Redpath stated, “Bob Barr’s willingness to serve as a leader of the Libertarian Party represents a significant and positive development for our organization. The Libertarian Party played a pivotal role in key races in 2006 and has emerged as a strong and principled political force.

Redpath continued, “The antiquated two-party system was dealt a blow today as we have welcomed a patriotic statesman into our ranks with the intent of using his vast experience and widespread respect to help recruit and elect Libertarian candidates of his caliber.

With someone like Bob Barr taking an active role in recruiting LP candidates and the failure of a limited government candidate to emerge in the Republican field will only mean that the Libertarian Party will do better than they did in 2006 and hurt mostly Republicans even more. More importantly for the LP, the GOP apparently still does not grasp this basic concept.

h/t: Redstate and Hammer of Truth.

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 Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.
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