Monthly Archives: March 2007

Mugabe Desperately Tries To Avoid Just Desserts

Zimbabwe detains opposition chief ahead of summit

Police surrounded the main Zimbabwean opposition party headquarters and briefly detained its leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday as African leaders met in Tanzania to debate Zimbabwe’s escalating political crisis.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said officers arrested 10 MDC officials on suspicion of links to recent petrol bombings, bringing the number since Tuesday held on these charges to 35.

Government sources said more arrests were likely in the coming days, including of opposition figures and journalists authorities accuse of trying to incite a coup against Mugabe.

One said: “Some people have just gone too far, talking and writing recklessly and they are going to be held to account.”

“The terrorist acts we are seeing are how civil wars start in any part of the world and this is how a country descends into anarchy,” Bvudzijena said.

Anarchy would be an improvement, buddy.

Giuliani Is Not A Libertarian

On this blog, a lot of typing has gone on attacking Rudy Giuliani, and some (but a lot less) has been spent defending him. Some, such as commentor Eric Dondero, suggest that Rudy Giuliani is a Libertarian Republican. As evidence of this, he refers to OnTheIssues.org, who rates Rudy as a “moderate libertarian”.

The question, then, falls down to whether Rudy is a candidate that libertarians should support. On the surface, one might think so. He’s appears to be a fan of fiscal liberty, with his constant attempts to cut taxes and balance spending in New York. As for social liberty, he’s a long way ahead of his rivals on the conservative wing of the Republican party.

But all of these platforms are balanced by a twinge of authoritarianism. If you read through his quotes that are the basis for the ontheissues.org characterization, you start to see an underlying problem: Rudy Giuliani does not believe in a libertarian relationship between individual and state.

From an external examination, libertarians look like pot-smoking Republicans. After all, the mainstream characterization of us is as a group of people who want low taxes, small-government, but without some of the social restrictions the Republicans would enact. Watching as folks like Eric Dondero (and another acquaintance) support Rudy while claiming to be Libertarians, I believe that those folks are nothing more than the caricature of libertarian.

But there’s a much deeper basis for libertarianism. I’ve pointed out before that libertarianism, at its core, is a moral system, not just a political party. Doctrinaire libertarians believe in a very limited relationship between the individual and his government, and that relationship does not find individual liberty subservient to collective security.

So when you look at Rudy “on the issues”, you see that he supports some libertarian policies, but his overall attitude is one that suggests the state should “maintain” our economic growth, that the government should use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a method to smooth gasoline prices, and– while he claims to support school vouchers– pumped city dollars even further into government education. On the social side, he appears to be a serious drug warrior, a staunch supporter of the Patriot Act, has no compunction about government DNA databases, and supports forcing people to take written tests before allowing gun ownership (and presumably supports registration).

Rudy Giuliani appears to hold some libertarian stances on issues, but at the same time, I don’t see how he can be called a libertarian. Rudy’s libertarian stances on certain issues may give him allure to some libertarians, but he is reflexively pro-government on other issues. If he were elected to the highest office in the land, I’m simply not sure that he would advance individual liberty.

It’s still early in the campaign, and if Rudy holds his lead, I think we might get to find out quite a bit more how much of his ontheissues.org profile was a relic of his tenure as the Mayor of New York, and how much coincides with his core beliefs. But at the moment, I don’t see Rudy as having the same understanding of the relationship between an individual and the state as I do.

Until I see some major changes in his rhetoric and stated positions, I am not ready to support his candidacy. Although his general libertarian stances make me somewhat willing to keep an open mind, he’s got a long way to go before I’d actually consider voting for him.

Tom Coburn Taking Aim At Supplemental Pork

Proving once again that he cares more about the American taxpayer than Ted Stevens’ health, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has offered up some amendments to strip the “emergency” pork out of the supplemental appropriations bill:

Coburn Amendment No. 648 would strike $100 million in emergency funding for the 2008 political party conventions.

Coburn Amendment No. 649 would strike a $2 million earmark for the University of Vermont.

Coburn Amendment No. 656 would require public disclosure of all reports provided to the appropriations committees by this act

Coburn Amendment No. 657 would provide crop disaster and livestock assistance with offsets; also removes “emergency” spending for sugar beet, sugar cane, and Christmas and ornamental tree assistance

Coburn Amendment No. 717 would strike all non-war and non-veterans spending from the bill

Coburn Amendment No. 718 would strike all non-war and non-veterans spending from the bill except for funding for abestos abatement around the Capitol

If your Senator is a Democrat, call their office and suggest that supporting these amendments would go a long way to proving how “fiscally conservative” they claim to be. If your Senator is a Republican, call their office and suggest that if they are able to kill some of these earmarks, it might dry up support amongst Democrats who were bribed into voting for a timetable.

No matter what party your Senator is from, you can use this to try to score a win for the American taxpayer. At the very least, I think it’s clear that the 2008 Political Party Conventions don’t need $100M in “emergency” funding in a war supplemental bill. That’s one bit of blatant arrogance that I think we need to call them all out for.

Is Rudy Giuliani A Fiscal Conservative ?

I’ve been pretty hard on Rudy Giuliani lately, but he appeared on Larry Kudlow’s CNBC program and had some interesting things to say:

KUDLOW: When you were a US attorney, you were very, very tough. You had a successful record. You were tough on the mobsters. You were tough on the drug pushers and the narcotics people. You were also tough on the white collar criminals. Let me ask you some of the hot button issues in the business community on this. First, CEO Perry and back dating stock options.

Mr. GIULIANI: CEO Perry to me is a question of private governance. That’s what you have corporations for. That’s what you have stock holders for, directors for. That gets corrected that way. That isn’t–unless there’s some fraud involved. It’s not for the government to start evaluating how much money should be paid in a private business. Back dating stock options is a different thing. I mean, if someone committed fraud, they should go to jail. If they are pretending that the stock options were given on a certain date and they were actually given on another date, that’s kind of straight out and out fraud and that’s something the government has to be involved in. If there’s an accounting dispute about the period of time you can select and it’s a legitimate accounting dispute, then you probably handle that civilly.

(….)

KUDLOW: How would a President Giuliani reform the tax code?

Mr. GIULIANI: I think it needs a massive simplification. If we were doing income tax for the first time. In other words, if we were starting off new back at the beginning of the last century, then probably we should go with a–we probably should’ve gone with a flat tax, maybe two levels of tax, but really simple. Our economy has kind of grown up now on depreciation and deductions and industries have grown up around that and so I don’t know exactly how much you can simplify it, but you sure have to make a stab at it. And I think Reagan got it right. I felt that what Reagan did was, I kind of think of it as like cleaning out the forest. You got–the tax code was this big, he got it down to a simple code, reduced the top rates. Kind of leveled out the rates a little so there weren’t as many. The tax code needs a simplification in addition to lowering your sum taxes. Another tax that has to be dealt with is the death tax. That’s a double tax. People get it twice and it has a major impact on lots of people who aren’t really wealthy. You know, people who have their money in land or they have they money in real estate or they have they have their money in the family business or the family farm and they’ve got to sell the darn thing or they get in a big dispute with the IRS about what it’s worth on paper.

There’s more, to the point where Stephen Moore from Cato declared himself “very impressed” with what Giuliani had to say on Kudlow’s show. At the very least, it’s interesting, and encouraging that the front runner for the Republican nomination is at least talking like a fiscal conservative.

Another interesting Giuliani-related development came out today:

The Rudy Giuliani Presidential Exploratory Committee today announced that Steve Forbes, President and Chief Executive Officer of Forbes and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes magazine, has endorsed Rudy Giuliani for President of the United States. Mr. Forbes will serve as a National Campaign Co-Chair and Senior Policy Advisor.

“I am honored to support Rudy Giuliani for President,” Steve Forbes said. “As Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani showed how exercising fiscal discipline, including tax cuts, lowers deficits, spurs economic growth, and increases revenue. It is time the rest of the country benefit from a true fiscal conservative leader who gets real results.”

I’ve always been a Steve Forbes fan and his affiliation with the Giuliani campaign may at least be a sign that fiscal conservatism is making a comeback in the GOP.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I have been pretty hard on Giuliani here in the past. I still have serious, significant doubts about him as President. I consider him far too authoritariam and I suspect that when it comes down the a balance between individual rights and expanding the power of the state, especially in the law enforcement area, he will side with the state every time. He may be talking a good game on economics, but when it comes to the entire package, he still doesn’t measure up to what America needs in the White House right now.

H/T: Hit & Run

Somebody’s Gotta Say It (Book Review)

(Cross posted here at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds)

As a regular listener of The Neal Boortz Show, I find this book every bit as hard-hitting, insensitive, informative, and entertaining as his show. The High Priest of the Painful Truth pulls no punches in his assault on ignorance whether from the Right, the Left, or Center. The Libertarian Party (the party that most closely reflects his views) is even skewered on a number of fronts.

It’s difficult to know how people who do not listen to his show will respond. You will likely find this book near books with a conservative political bent but conservatives who expect to find yet another book which relentlessly attacks the Left while keeping their sacred cows protected will be sorely disappointed. While Boortz dedicates a significant portion of the book to the lunacy of the Left, the Right is criticized for pushing their religious anti-science agenda on the American public (especially in government schools), their homophobia, and their continuous chipping away at the limited government platform they claim to embrace.

Boortz has many targets in this book but none receive more of his ire than government schools. Teacher’s unions exist solely to keep mediocre to incompetent teachers in a job; they will fight tooth and nail to prevent any kind of competition from private schools. But government schools are even more harmful that what we can see on the surface. Want to know why the American public has lost its love for freedom in exchange for security from an ever expanding government? According to Boortz, government schools are to blame. Government schools teach school children from a very young age that government is good and is the solution to every problem. There is even a chapter dedicated to how school children learn their first lesson in communism. Have you ever taken your child to the store and bought school supplies on a list only to have the teacher take those supplies away from your child to be donated to the class? If you don’t believe this to be a big deal consider the lesson your child is learning: he or she must give up his or her private property (school supplies in this case) for “the greater good” of the whole society (the classroom in this case).

Is it any coincidence that most Americans erroneously believe that America’s government is a democracy rather than a constitutional representative republic? Is it any coincidence that most Americans don’t know the difference or know why this distinction is important? Boortz contends that this is not by accident but by design. The purpose of government schools is not to educate students but to indoctrinate them into obedient citizens subjects.

Eventually, these school children grow up to be voters (Did I mention that the author finds no constitutional guarantee to the right to vote? Sounds crazy but once you read his arguments and consult the U.S. Constitution, he makes a compelling case). After thirteen years of government indoctrination, many of these adults see no problem with wealth redistribution, the welfare state, the nanny state, and have no genuine appreciation for liberty. This makes it very easy for politicians to pander to the American public to meet all of these needs which far too many people believe to be birthrights. Those who believe this the most tend to vote Democrat which leads me to his chapter “The Democrats’ Secret Plan for America.”

Boortz mockingly calls the Democrat plan a “secret plan” because of how Democrats typically scare various constituencies about Republican secret plans to kick old people into the street, burn black churches, and starve babies. Much of the secret plan is no secret at all however. So what do the Democrats have in store for America should they retain congress and win the presidency? According to the author we can expect the entire tax burden to be shifted to the wealthy, imputed income (which would put most all home owners in a higher tax bracket), place caps on income for those who “make too much,” add taxes to 401k and other investment vehicles which are not currently taxed, womb to the tomb universal government healthcare, the reinstatement of the “fairness doctrine” (which would effectively put an end to talk radio), the repeal of the Second Amendment, and several other such wet dreams of the far Left. If you don’t read any other chapter in this book, read this chapter.

Certainly, this book isn’t one which will leave the reader thinking “Its morning in America” but it does offer a fair amount of humor, positive solutions (such as what should be taught in government schools; provides his own citizenship test), and an inside peek of the talk radio business. Boortz opens the book by introducing himself, his interests and how he got into talk radio (under rather tragic circumstances). Even in the chapters that contain a discouraging outlook have a healthy dose of humor. But if you are overly outraged after reading the chapter about government funded art or the Democrat Party’s war on the individual, skip to “Chasing Cats” or “Terrorizing the Mailroom.” I won’t give away what these chapters are about but I assure you that you are in for a good belly laugh (that Boortz is quite the prankster).

Somebody’s Gotta Say It is a refreshingly honest, sober view of the body politic, American culture, and state of our world. Boortz presents a variety of original controversial ideas on a variety of issues. Such proposals would certainly make the political debate more productive if not more interesting (a number of these proposals can be found toward the end of the book in a chapter entitled “No Way in Hell.”). I highly recommend this book for anyone who is not easily offended. Anyone who is easily offended should skip this book in favor of a selection from the Oprah Book Club.

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