Monthly Archives: June 2007

Ron Paul’s Political Skills

Most people dismiss Ron Paul as a political hack on the fringe of the Republican Party, but the Cato Institute’s David Boaz makes an interesting observation:

Similarly, Ron Paul is the only current member of Congress to have been elected three times as a non-incumbent. Given the 98 percent reelection rates for House members, it’s no great shakes to win three terms — or 10 terms — in a row. It’s winning that first one that’s the challenge. And Ron Paul has done that three times.

He first won in a special election for an open seat. He then lost his seat and won it back two years later, defeating the incumbent. After two more terms he left his seat to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate (and thereby did his greatest disservice to the American Republic, as his seat was won by Tom DeLay). Twelve years later, in 1996, after some redistricting, he ran again for Congress, again defeating an incumbent, this time in the Republican primary. Some political scientist should study the political skills it takes to win election to Congress without the benefit of incumbency — three times.

It can’t be easy, that’s for sure. Granted, Paul was helped by the fact that he was running in areas of Texas where the prevailing political beliefs are conservative, but a conservatism that is of the Barry Goldwater/Ronald Reagan leave-me-alone type than the interventionist/Christianist conservatism that prevails elsewhere in the country. Still, facts like this should put to rest the idea that Ron Paul is just some lone nut.

Jim Gilmore’s National Property Rights Initiative

As Jason mentioned in his post about the National Taxpayer’s Union poll, former Virginia Governor and Presidential candidate Jim Gilmore used the NTU conference to announce what he calls his National Property Rights Initiative:

Property rights will be a major priority in Jim Gilmore’s administration. As President, he will:

* Nominate judges who will strictly interpret the Constitution, rather than making policy from the bench.

* Appoint a Special Assistant within the White House who will advise the President and oversee the Commission’s recommendations.

* Reissue President Reagan’s Executive Order 12630, which directs federal agencies to “first do no harm” to property rights when writing regulations.

* Require the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and other affected cabinet members to issue regular reports to the President on the state of property rights in America.

* Name a Presidential Commission on Property Rights, which will evaluate the state of property rights in America and craft policy recommendations to the President and Congress that will strengthen protections for property owners.

It’s not very detailed, and neither is the PDF handout that the campaign links to, but it’s a start. As Jason pointed out, other than Ron Paul, Jim Gilmore is the only Presidential candidate whose given anything other than lip service to the idea of private property rights. And that’s a start.

NTU straw poll

Fred Thompson wins the straw poll at the National Taxpayers Conference, but guess who came in second place:

Every attendee of our Conference was given a chance to vote for any of the declared Presidential candidates, Republican or Democrat. After counting the votes, we can announce partial results.

Fred Thompson was the winner with 25.7% of the vote.

Ron Paul came in second place with 16.7%.

Rudy Giuliani placed third with 12.5%

Mitt Romney garnered 9.0% of the vote to snag fourth place.

The top five was rounded out by John McCain, who received 5.6%.

Also, Jim Gilmore kicked off a property rights initiative at the conference as well. Gilmore and Ron Paul are the only two candidates that have mentioned eminent domain and private property rights, at least as far as I know.

A Democrat For Ron Paul

Apropos of this post, Andrew Sullivan links to a Democratic blogger who gives some interesting reasons for supporting Ron Paul:

By helping Ron Paul supporters, we help ourselves. We don’t have to agree on every issue to agree on fundamental respect for the Constitution, respect for civil rights, and respect for the integrity of our democratic process. Clearly, not everyone supports those values anymore; those that do, despite any policy differences we may have, are objectively allies in the fight to keep the American experiment alive.

There is only a small spark of respect for American civic values in the GOP’s nomination contest. That spark is Ron Paul. But there is a massive reservoir of people who can nurture that spark into a prairie fire of reform within the GOP. We progressives need to ensure that the spark doesn’t die out and that the real conservatives among the Republicans and Independents on the right have a chance to catch that spark.

I don’t want to see another Republican President any more than the next Democrat. But I do want to see a Republican nominee who stands up for civil rights, who speaks sensibly about America’s place in the world, who insists on the rule of law and rejects the exceptionalism and emergency powers advocated by every other GOP candidate. I want to see the Republican part rally around a voice that is not encouraging them to tear apart the Constitution in fear of terrorism. I want to see a Republican nominee who will enable the American people to experience a campaign of hope and ideas, not of fear and McCarthyism.

There is only one way I can see to make that happen: do everything we can to ensure that the GOP nominee is Ron Paul (as unlikely as it seems right now). Howard Dean was never expected and his rise was extremely unlikely, but now he heads the DNC and is bringing many progressive values to the party’s operations. Reform is an ongoing and protracted process, especially for part-time citizen activists. There are conservatives out there hungry for an honest voice that reflects their values: a Dean-like surge could happen in the GOP (indeed, it seems to be the only thing that can save the party) and we Democrats should encourage such a revolt.

There are some Republicans who are now realizing that the GOP made a mistake in 2000 when it started down the road to secret detention facilities, warrantless wiretaps, and the Patriot Act. Yes, we didn’t know 9/11 was going to happen when Bush was elected, but the seeds for stuff like this were all there. The neocons were gathered around the Bush campaign, and plans for a war in Iraq were being drawn up months before September 11th even happened.

Whether those people will be enough to reverse what was started when George W. Bush took office is unclear, but unfortunately seems unlikely.

Democrats For Ron Paul ?

Reason Magazine’s Brian Doherty went to a Ron Paul meetup in Pasadena this week and was surprised to meet a few (former ?) Democrats:

The meeting, which I stumbled into by accident (I hadn’t signed up for Paul’s meetup group myself and was unaware it was happening), had, even two and a half hours after its official beginning, a good 75 people filling the room. Attendees told me more than 100 were there at peak—which I found quite impressive, but the Paul rally coordinator I spoke to seemed disappointed. There were more people under the age of 30 in this room then I saw at the national convention of the Libertarian Party in Portland in 2006.

When I asked one former Democrat at this gathering, who told me he got excited by Paul during the first televised GOP debates, whether he was a common phenomenon, both he and another supporter (who came to Ron from the hard money side) shook their heads wonderingly as if I’d asked them something as ridiculous and obvious as if Ron Paul believes in the Constitution; it’s a constant phenomenon, they insist. The hard money guy, who likes to wear his nifty “Ron Paul Revolution” t-shirt (with the “evol” in revolution laid out to make the “love” backwards part stand out), says he’s constantly approached by interested civilians, many of them Democrats, excited and eager to know more.

All either of them had was anecdotes, not thorough data. But no one is polling Democratic voters on their thoughts on Ron Paul, so that’s all we’ve got to go on. The appeal makes sense on some level, especially when you look at the weak-kneed pasts of most of the antiwarriors leading the Dem pack and contemplate the list of issues that sum up Paul on a business card being handed out at this event.

It has the “ronpaul2008.com” address on top, and lists as Ron’s stances: “Voted against Iraq War. Voted against Patriot Act. Never voted to raise taxes. Never voted to increase government. Opposes Internet regulation. Opposes War on Drugs. Opposes Torture. Supports non-interventionist foreign policy. Supports habeas corpus.” (That’s the full list.)

As Doherty points out, there are many reasons why Ron Paul could be appealing to some of the same people who are attracted to Democratic candidates like Barak Obama:

One of the keys to why Paul should have wider appeal is that while he is certainly very libertarian, he is in many ways more federalist and constitutionalist than libertarian in a strict sense. He’s willing to leave all sorts of things to the states rather than imposing small-government solutions from the top down. He represents—or should, to most thinking voters—little in the way of a threat to their interests, insomuch as their interests don’t involve living off the federal teat or using federal power to their advantage. As Paul told me when I interviewed him for my book Radicals for Capitalism, “the freedom philosophy shouldn’t be challenging to too many people, when you emphasize that all I want to do is leave you alone.”

Progressive gadflies at the Nation such as Alexander Cockburn and John Nichols have had kind words for Paul, the former bordering on an endorsement. Paul has spoken of his affection for, and cooperation with, progressive Dem favorite Dennis Kucinich. Democratic voters need to decide, after eight years of Bush, if they can dedicate themselves mostly to stopping government from doing all the bad things they think Bush has done, from wars to Patriot Acts, or if it is more important to use government’s power to do all the good things they insist must be done.

In the end, Doherty thinks that most progressives will not able to give up the opportunity that the 2008 election promises for them — namely the opportunity to retake the Presidency and bring back the dream of the do-it-all-cause-we-tax-the-rich government. But that really says more about them than it does Ron Paul:

Ron Paul is the most energetic and consistent advocate on an issue of paramount political importance, especially to left-progressives—ending our involvement in Iraq. He’s willing to leave many controversial issues to states and localities. He wants to leave most of us alone to manage our own affairs, as either individuals or smaller polities. He’s a dedicated enemy of some of the most evil and repressive policies currently afoot in America. If America’s progressives can’t manage to give him at least two cheers, the fault lies not with their candidates, but with themselves.

It also speaks volumes about our political system when the one candidate running for office who actually thinks the Constitution means what it says doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning.

Taxation Explained

The Cato Institute’s David Boaz enunciates The Mikulski Principle:

There are whole books on the correct theory of taxation. I’ve always assumed that Democratic members of Congress operate on the theory most clearly enunciated in 1990 by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D, Md.):

Let’s go and get it from those who’ve got it.

There are many theories of taxation, such as Haig-Simons, the Tiebout model, and the Ramsay Principle. But I’d bet that the Mikulski Principle explains actual taxation best.

Yep.

Explaining Ron Paul’s Online Appeal

Ron Paul may be an also-ran in the race for the Republican nomination, but he’s pretty big online and the Washington Post, in a remarkably positive front page article, takes a look at the phenomenon:

On Technorati, which offers a real-time glimpse of the blogosphere, the most frequently searched term this week was “YouTube.”

Then comes “Ron Paul.”

The presence of the obscure Republican congressman from Texas on a list that includes terms such as “Sopranos,” “Paris Hilton” and “iPhone” is a sign of the online buzz building around the long-shot Republican presidential hopeful — even as mainstream political pundits have written him off.

Rep. Ron Paul is more popular on Facebook than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He’s got more friends on MySpace than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. His MeetUp groups, with 11,924 members in 279 cities, are the biggest in the Republican field. And his official YouTube videos, including clips of his three debate appearances, have been viewed nearly 1.1 million times — more than those of any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, except Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

No one’s more surprised at this robust Web presence than Paul himself, a self-described “old-school,” “pen-and-paper guy” who’s serving his 10th congressional term and was the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president in 1988.

“To tell you the truth, I hadn’t heard about this YouTube and all the other Internet sites until supporters started gathering in them,” confessed Paul, 71, who said that he’s raised about $100,000 after each of the three debates. Not bad considering that his campaign had less than $10,000 when his exploratory committee was formed in mid-February. “I tell you I’ve never raised money as efficiently as that, in all my years in Congress, and all I’m doing is speaking my mind.”

That means saying again and again that the Republican Party, especially when it comes to government spending and foreign policy, is in “shambles.”

As the Post notes, Ron Paul is far behind even the middle of the pack in the Republican race, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming the rally point for a vocal group of supporters:

After the second Republican presidential debate last month, when Paul implied that American foreign policy has contributed to anti-Americanism in the Middle East — “They attack us because we’re over there. We’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years,” Paul said — he was attacked by Giuliani, and conservatives such as Saul Anuzis were livid. Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan GOP, threatened to circulate a petition to bar Paul from future Republican presidential debates. Though the petition never materialized, Anuzis’s BlackBerry was flooded with e-mails and his office was inundated with calls for several days. “It was a distraction, no doubt,” he said.

The culprits: Paul’s growing number of supporters, some of whom posted Anuzis’s e-mail address and office phone number on their blogs.

“At first I was skeptical of his increasing online presence, thinking that it’s probably just a small cadre of dedicated Ron Paul fans,” said Matt Lewis, a blogger and director of operations at Townhall, a popular conservative site. “But if you think about it, the number one issue in the country today is Iraq. If you’re a conservative who supports the president’s war, you have nine candidates to choose from. But if you’re a conservative who believes that going into Iraq was a mistake, Ron Paul is the only game in town.”

Added Terry Jeffrey, the syndicated newspaper columnist who ran Patrick J. Buchanan’s failed White House bid in 1996: “On domestic issues like spending and taxation and the role of government, Ron Paul is saying exactly what traditional conservatives have historically thought, and he’s pointing out that the Bush administration has walked away from these principles. That’s a very attractive argument.”

And the fact that it’s not attracting more support from so-called conservatives says alot about what it really means to be a Republican today.

Mitt Romney And Liberty: Friends Or Foes ?

I’ve been fairly critical in many posts here at The Liberty Papers of both Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. But what of Mitt Romney, the other declared candidate considered to be among the top contenders for the Republican nomination ?

Unfortunately, he’s not much better than Rudy or John:

“Mitt Romney’s ignorance of the Constitution’s checks and balances and protections against government abuses would have alarmed the Founding Fathers and their conservative philosophy,” said Bruce Fein, one of the group’s co founders and a Reagan administration attorney, in a press release last month attacking Romney for not signing the pledge.

The American Freedom Agenda, which intends to put all candidates in both parties to the same test, is aiming to revive a strand of conservatism that they say has been drowned out since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The conservative principle of limited government, they say, means not just cutting the budget, but imposing checks and balances on those who wield power.

“Conservatives have to go back to the basics,” said co founder Richard Viguerie , a veteran direct-mail strategist and author of “Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause.” “We have to go back and re launch the conservative movement. And for traditional conservatives, it’s part of our nature to believe in the separation of powers.”

The other two co founders are Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman from Georgia, and David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union .

I’ve written before, favorably, about the  American Freedom Agenda, and that was way back in April when the only Presidential candidate who had signed on to their recommendations was Ron Paul. Two months later, it’s not much different:

One presidential candidate — Representative Ron Paul of Texas, the libertarian-minded Republican who trails far behind GOP front – runners Rudy Giuliani , John McCain , and Romney — has signed the pledge. Paul called up the American Freedom Agenda and signed its pledge after it announced its existence in March, Fein said.

The silence from the rest of the Republican field has been deafening.

But the focus here is Mitt Romney and whether anyone who believes in individual liberty should support him in his run for President.

So far, given his public record and his record as Governor of Massachusetts. the answer can only be no.

Supreme Court Rules Against Unions On Political Fees

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that states can force unions not to compel their members to contribute fees that are used for purely political purposes:

WASHINGTON — States may force public sector labor unions to get consent from workers before using their fees for political activities, the Supreme Court said Thursday.

The court unanimously upheld a Washington state law that applied to public employees who choose not to join the union that represents them in contract talks with state and local governments. The workers are compelled to pay the equivalent of union dues, a portion of which the union uses for political activities.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the court, said the law does not violate the union’s First Amendment rights.

But the state’s Democratic governor and Democratic-controlled legislature recently changed the law to eliminate the provision that was upheld Thursday, blunting the impact of the court ruling.

The narrow issue before the justices was whether, as the law formerly prescribed, employees must opt in, or affirmatively consent, to having some of their money used in election campaigns.

The justices said that a state could indeed require such consent. But there also is nothing to bar the state from putting the onus on nonmember workers to opt out, or seek a refund of a portion of their fees.

That, in effect, is what Washington law now requires after the recent change.

The important point, though, is that the Supreme Court has decided that, while you can be forced to join a union as a condition of employment, you cannot be forced to have your dues used to support political causes you disagree with. And that is a good thing.

Related Post:

Teacher’s Unions: Enemies Of Free Speech
Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument In Washington Free Speech Case

Environmentalism: The Biggest Threat To Freedom

Vaclav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic writes in the Financial Times that he sees environmentalism as the biggest threat to individual liberty:

In the past year, Al Gore’s so-called “documentary” film was shown in cinemas worldwide, Britain’s – more or less Tony Blair’s – Stern report was published, the fourth report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was put together and the Group of Eight summit announced ambitions to do something about the weather. Rational and freedom-loving people have to respond. The dictates of political correctness are strict and only one permitted truth, not for the first time in human history, is imposed on us. Everything else is denounced.

The author Michael Crichton stated it clearly: “the greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda”. I feel the same way, because global warming hysteria has become a prime example of the truth versus propaganda problem. It requires courage to oppose the “established” truth, although a lot of people – including top-class scientists – see the issue of climate change entirely differently. They protest against the arrogance of those who advocate the global warming hypothesis and relate it to human activities.

As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning.

The environmentalists ask for immediate political action because they do not believe in the long-term positive impact of economic growth and ignore both the technological progress that future generations will undoubtedly enjoy, and the proven fact that the higher the wealth of society, the higher is the quality of the environment. They are Malthusian pessimists.

Though the environmentalists will no doubt denounce him, Klaus has a point. The leading lights of the environmentalist political movement are clearly, and explicitly, collectivist. They advocate measures that would subordinate individual liberty to political will or scientific consensus, often with only the flimsiest support for their theories.

Before we all march hand in hand into Al Gore’s Green Utopia, we need to be asking ourselves if it’s worth the price of our freedom.

Rudy Giuliani’s Meaningless And Anti-Liberty “12 Commitments”

Rudy Giuliani has released what appears to be his campaign platform and he does God himself one better by replacing the Ten Commandments with the Twelve Commitments:

1. I will keep America on offense in the Terrorists’ War on Us.

Umm, okay. A terribly bland statement if I’ve ever seen one.

Sort of like someone running for President in 1944 saying “I’m against the Nazi’s.”

The question, Rudy, isn’t whether you’d be on the offense or not, but whether you think it makes sense to expend precious military resources on useless causes while we let the true enemy in the War on Islamofascism escape to safety.

The other question is whether you are willing to sacrifice the Constitution to achieve Goal # 1.

2. I will end illegal immigration, secure our borders, and identify every non-citizen in our nation.

Precisely how do you intend to do this ? The United States’ border with Canada is 5,522 miles long. The U.S.’s border with Mexico is 1,951 miles long.

By even the most conservative estimates, there are 20 million undocumented immigrants in this country, many of whom have had children who are citizens under the 14th Amendment. They build our houses and clean our office buildings, and do many other jobs that many Americans simply wouldn’t do. Kicking them out of the country isn’t going to happen. And, quite frankly, keeping them out isn’t either unless you turn America into a police state.

3. I will restore fiscal discipline and cut wasteful Washington spending.

Okay Rudy, did you just photocopy this one from the George W. Bush playbook ? Because he said the same thing in 2000 and 2004, and reality turned out to be far, far different.

More importantly, though, what do you consider wasteful ? And what would you do to combat the earmarks that Congressman and Senators seem to slip into ever bill that makes it’s way from Capitol Hill to the White House ?

4. I will cut taxes and reform the tax code.

Yawn. Every Republican since Ronald Reagan has said it, and Reagan was the only one who actually carried through with it. What reforms are you talking about Rudy ? Do you support a flat tax ? What about Fair Tax ?

5. I will impose accountability on Washington.

Isn’t that what the Constitution is for ?

6. I will lead America towards energy independence.

How ? Will you force us to use ethanol ? Or will you let the market decide ?

7. I will give Americans more control over, and access to, healthcare with affordable and portable free-market solutions.

It sounds nice, but it seems like a different version of the problem that has plagued the health care system for decades now. Thanks to government mandated tax breaks, consumers are completely insulted from price in the health care market. Why worry about how much it costs to go the doctor when you have the sniffles if the insurance company pays for it ? Until someone talks about bringing back real free-market principles to the health care market, I’ll pass on phony solutions like the ones Rudy seems to propose.

8. I will increase adoptions, decrease abortions, and protect the quality of life for our children.

Because I’m the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES and that’s what I want.

Umm, not really Rudy.

9. I will reform the legal system and appoint strict constructionist judges.

Okay, even if we believe you, that takes care of the Federal Courts. What about the states ? Oh, that’s right, you would be the President, not a dictator.

10. I will ensure that every community in America is prepared for terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

Two words. Hurricane Katrina. Five more words. The Atlanta Dude With TB.

Sorry Rudy, but the truth is that there are some things that we just aren’t going to be prepared for at the national level.

That’s why we have states, counties, cities, and towns.

11. I will provide access to a quality education to every child in America by giving real school choice to parents.

And your authority to even do this derives from which portion of the Constitution of the United States ?

12. I will expand America’s involvement in the global economy and strengthen our reputation around the world.

Okay, let’s see….we’ve got McDonald’s, KFC, Starbucks and Microsoft involved in pretty much every country in the world outside of North Korea, Iran, and Cuba. I’m not quite sure how much more “involved” we could be.

Unless by “involved” Rudy means, “invading.”

H/T: James Joyner

“Young man, turn off your camera.”

Absolutely despicable:

Brian D. Kelly didn’t think he was doing anything illegal when he used his videocamera to record a Carlisle police officer during a traffic stop. Making movies is one of his hobbies, he said, and the stop was just another interesting event to film.

Now he’s worried about going to prison or being burdened with a criminal record.

Kelly, 18, of Carlisle, was arrested on a felony wiretapping charge, with a penalty of up to 7 years in state prison.

His camera and film were seized by police during the May 24 stop, he said, and he spent 26 hours in Cumberland County Prison until his mother posted her house as security for his $2,500 bail.

Kelly is charged under a state law that bars the intentional interception or recording of anyone’s oral conversation without their consent.

There is, of course, an exception in the law in order for police to record citizens during traffic stops. The most chilling part of the story?

First Assistant District Attorney Jaime Keating said case law is in flux as to whether police can expect not to be recorded while performing their duties.

“The law isn’t solid,” Keating said. “But people who do things like this do so at their own peril.”

Move along sheep, nothing to see here. You wouldn’t want to hold the police accountable by filming them because that would be very perilous for you.

Loving v. Virginia: 40 Years Later

Forty years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued it’s decision in what may well have been the most ironically named lawsuit in history.

The Plaintiffs were Richard and Mildred Loving. A couple who had been married in the District of Columbia in June 1958. And that’s where the trouble started. You see, Richard was white and Mildred was black. And in Virginia in 1958, that just wasn’t right. In fact, they had deliberately gone to D.C. to get married and then returned to their home in Virginia. The only problem is that interracial marriages were illegal in Virginia in 1958, and evading the ban was a criminal offense that could lead to jail time. And that’s what happened to the Lovings.

Not surprisingly, the state courts of Virginia upheld the conviction. Which left it to the United States Supreme Court to decide whether Virginia’s “public policy” ban on interracial marriages violated the 14th Amendment.

Fortunately, they reached the right conclusion:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

Okay, so here’s the question. Take the above quote, heck take the entire Loving v. Virginia opinion, and substitute race for gender and tell me why state laws against homosexuals being allowed to marry should be considered valid.

Yea, I didn’t think you could.

H/T to fellow Virginian Vivian Page for reminding me of the anniversary of this decision.

20 Years Ago Today: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Exactly 20 years ago on this day, June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate of the Berlin Wall in West Berlin where he gave what would become one of his most famous speeches. This was the speech where President Reagan encouraged Mikhail Gorbachev to drop the Iron Curtain and release Eastern Europe from Soviet oppression. The following line is the most memorable and the most powerful:

There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Reagan’s speech writers and advisors repeatedly told him that he should strike this line from the speech. They feared it was to bold. Indeed, this was a bold statement but I for one, am glad Reagan did not listen to his advisors. To this day, when I hear the recording of Ronald Reagan delivering this line, it brings me chills up and down my spine. President Reagan instinctively knew that he was standing before individuals who had families and friends on the other side of the wall or had previously escaped the oppression found on the other side themselves. These were people who hungered for freedom for their friends separated by a wall which was a symbolic as well as physical barrier to the hopes and dreams of an oppressed people.

On November 9, 1989, the wall came down allowing some 10,000 East Germans to join the free world. Many factors contributed to the wall’s ultimate demise and President Ronald Reagan played no small part.

Read the entire speech below the fold.

» Read more

Demography Is Destiny

“Demography is Destiny”… It’s been a common quote on the political landscape throughout the post war era; often credited (with no primary sources to back it unfortunately) to French mathematician and social scientist/philosopher (and totalitarian socialist to boot – what a combo) Auguste Comte.

Comte, charmingly, also penned “Love as a principle and order as the basis; Progress as the goal” to support his totalitarian socialist views (which was later shortened to “Order & Progress” to become the motto of Brazil – and part of the justification for their death squads). Much more euphonious than “From each to his abilities, to each to his needs” eh.

At any rate, and disregarding the dictatorial delusions of a 19th century Frenchman; there’s a strong point to be made with the statement.

To the extent that human behavior is predictable (and on the macro scale, it can be surprisingly so), or more to the point that societies and subcultures behaviors are predictable; the primary factor in those predictions is demographics.

Of course that is so, because demographics is specifically the study of ones (or ones “group”) position in society; social, economic, religious, political; and how that is likely to effect the actions and decisions of those similarly grouped. In fact, in many ways demography is specifically the study of how people can be broken into groups of (at least somewhat) predictable behavior.

I know personally two demographic experts, who happen to be married to each other; Kim and Connie Du Toit. Connie uses her expertise in determining the best way to train corporate workers on a large scale (like the entire workforce of a fortune 500 company in India); and Kim uses it to design retail store environments (where to locate stores, what merchandise to sell in what stores at what locations, and where to put it in the store) for maximum sales.

So, given that Kim is a demographic expert (and believe me, he is… actually THEY are. They can talk about the subject for hours); the fact that he was gobsmacked by this piece that he linked is somewhat surprising:

Heinsohn is not concerned with the absolute size of populations, but rather with the share of teenagers and young men. If this share becomes too big compared to the total population, we are facing a youth bulge. The problem starts when families begin to produce three, four or more sons. This will cause the sons to fight over access to the positions in society that give power and prestige. Then you will have a lot of boys and young men running around filled with aggression and uncontrollable hormones. And then we shall experience mass killings, until a sufficient number of young men have been eradicated to match society’s ability to provide positions for the survivors.

According to Heinsohn, 80 per cent of world history is about young men in nations with a surplus of sons, creating trouble. This trouble may take many forms — a increase in domestic crime, attempts at coups d’état, revolutions, riots and civil wars. Occasionally, the young commit genocide to secure for themselves the positions that belonged to those they killed. Finally, there is war to conquer new territory, killing the enemy population and replacing it with one’s own.

But, as Heinsohn emphasizes again and again, the unrest and the violent acts caused by youth bulges have nothing to do with famine or unemployment. In his book he describes it as follows: “The dynamic of a youth bulge — it cannot be emphasized too often — is not caused by a lack of food. A younger brother, who may be employed as a stable hand by the first-born son and who may be well fed and perhaps even fat, does not seek food but position, one that can guarantee him recognition, influence and dignity. Not the underweight but rather the potential losers or the déclassé are pushing forward” (p. 21).

And that’s just part of the prelude. The rest, and the analysis itself, will leave you slack-jawed with astonishment, I promise you.

It’s not often I read something which makes me smack my head (figuratively speaking) and exclaim, ”Of course!”, but this analysis managed that quite easily. It’s one of those pieces which grabs all the little loose ends lying around in your brain, and ties them all into a big, tidy knot.

And, if he’s right, we are facing some really interesting times ahead—in a bad sense.

Oh he’s definitely right (Heinsohn that is). Astute China and India watchers have been saying for years “watch out for the demographic bomb”.

China and India both have a vastly disproportionate share of young males to young females due to sex selective abortion and infanticide. Combine that with huge and growing populations, and little opportunity for upward mobility; and it doesn’t take a genius to see trouble on the horizon.

The middle east, which has comparatively few opportunities for position and advancement in comparison to it’s huge population of young males (also due to cultural sex selection, though there is less infanticide and almost no abortion – females are simply not allowed to be active members of society; combined with active neglect and plural marriage, the pool of available women is very small), has been going through this for it’s entire recorded history; and the problem is only accelerating.

There are only two ways to defuse the bomb: The first is to provide more opportunities for status, position, and advancement; the second, to reduce birth rates, especially of males.

America has done both quite successfully, providing consistent year over year growth in excess of it’s population, while bringing birth rates down to replacement levels through organic cultural incentives (not through population control policies, which simply don’t work as intended, in fact creating demographic bombs as above), and allowing relatively moderate immigration (in fact our primary demographic issue in the US is assimilated illegal immigration).

Europe quite frankly has not done either very well (and the mid-east hasn’t done anything at all except get worse). Since the 1970s (after the post war recovery and then economic boom – also largely caused by demographics) Europe has only provided modest opportunities for relatively small percentages of it’s population, while reducing their birth rates far too drastically.

This population implosion has required Europe to import unskilled labor in massive amounts; thus resulting in nearly the same problems that exist in the mid-east: large numbers of low status young men, with little opportunity for advancement, little attachment to the political and social fabric of the society in which they live (or rather which they live outside of but conterminous with), and a strong incentive towards violence.

Europe cannot decrease their birth rate (it’s already well below the replacement rate), in fact they need to INCREASE it (some governments are already offering incentives to do so – they don’t work well either); and if they stopped importing labor they would have a total economic collapse; which would simply accelerate the descent into violence that has already begun in France, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

They are desperately trying to stave off the problem with their welfare state, but they don’t understand, it’s not about hungry people, it’s about people who feel like they have no way of getting ahead. People who have little self worth and a burning desire to feel important; and no way of doing so.

Those people are rife for recruitment into radical religious and political sects; because they give an inflated sense of self worth, and accomplishment; as well as giving people with excess of energy and aggression (the definition of angry young men) goals that they can expend that aggression on.

Oh, and I should note, Americas OTHER major demographic problem is also an excess of young men in an area of little opportunity, with a lot of excess anger and energy, and a lack of self worth and self respect: we call them gangs.

In many ways you can see much of the radicalism of the middle east as one giant street gang, sucking up the angry young men and using their energy to do violence on others.

The only way that Europe is going to solve this problem is by allowing opportunities for advancement and growth to (excuse the bad reference it’s sure to create in your head) explode. The only way they could do that would be to drastically reduce their regulatory and tax burdens: to remove the negative incentives and allow the positive incentives to grow and take over.

…but they won’t do that.

Europes choice is economic freedom, or bloody revolution; and yet somehow they seem to think the only way to avoid the blood is through LESS freedom, thus they are accelerating the problem.

They are married to an ideology of government control, and nannyism. This is ultimately an ideology that is incompatible with the aggressive side of human nature, and one that will eventually explode (and not very far off unless I miss my guess terribly).

They believe that somehow, making sure everyone is fed and has a place to sleep, will make everything alright. Of course they do this by taxing everyone into penury; at the same time regulating the productive down to nearly nothing, and reducing competition … it’s more “humane” after all… which eliminates jobs or reduces them to meaningless time serving. Combined with legislating low work hours, minimum wages, and protectionist markets…

They’ve eliminated both real work, and competition almost entirely. In the process they’ve eliminated all of the opportunities for people to advance socially and economically; and to EARN self worth and self respect.

People need to have some way to earn self respect; it’s not something that can be given to them. In fact attempting to do so makes the problem worse. If you’re given everything, you value nothing, including yourself.

People don’t just want to be warm and safe and fed and “equal”… oh I know, for some it’s enough, for a while anyway; but man is a competitive and aggressive beast by nature, and blood will eventually out… people want to strive, and excel, and fight, and win.

You can’t win, if they don’t let you play.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

More Mandatory Minimums Madness: The “Sexual Predator” Edition, Part II

Back in January, I wrote a post about the injustice that befell seventeen year old Genarlow Wilson who was sentenced to ten years in prison for engaging in oral sex with a fifteen year old girl (just a few months shy of sixteen) at a New Year’s party. Wilson was charged with aggravated child molesting. Wilson is now twenty-one and has served his first two years of his ten year sentence.

Today, Judge Thomas H. Wilson (no relation to Genarlow Wilson) ordered the release of Genarlow Wilson stating in his ruling: “The fact that Genarlow Wilson has spent two years in prison for what is now classified as a misdemeanor, and without assistance from this Court, will spend eight more years in prison, is a grave miscarriage of justice.”

Even though the Georgia legislature failed to make the law retroactive, Judge Wilson downgraded the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor because the legislature’s intent was to clarify what the state determined to be child molesting. The reason the legislature passed the bill was in direct response to the Genarlow Wilson case.

Despite pleas from Wilson’s lawyer to the Georgia Attorney General to not file an appeal, the Attorney General made the decision less than two hours after Judge Wilson’s ruling to file an appeal, effectively placing the judge’s ruling on hold and keeping Wilson in prison until his case can be heard by a higher court.

This begs the question: what possible purpose is being served by Genarlow Wilson spending ten years in prison for what most people agree is minor offense? Is it really fair to characterize a seventeen year old having sexual contact with someone less than two years younger than him as a child molester? Is this young man truly a threat to children if he is released back into society? Judge Wilson had it right: two years for this offense is enough. Hopefully, the next judge who hears this case will also be as reasonable.

Why Paris Hilton Is Not A Libertarian Hero

In this and other posts, Lew Rockwell and several contributors to his blog have bizzarely tried to turn the Paris Hilton saga into some kind of indictment of the American legal system. Ms. Hilton, they, seem to be arguing, was the victim of an out of control legal system. Sort of like how O.J. Simpson was unjustly prosecuted just because he sliced his wife’s throat with a kinfe.

Well, leaving aside the debates about whether DWI is a legitimate crime (personally, I think a libertarian/classical liberal case for such laws can be made), here are the facts that stand unrebutted:

Last January, Hilton got convicted of driving drunk. That killed 18,000 people last year; it’s no joke. Hilton didn’t have to serve a day in jail for it, either. She got 36 months probation and had her license suspended (in November 2006). She was also ordered into an alcohol education program.

Within a month, she had been arrested twice for driving without a license, and still had not entered the program as ordered. The city prosecuted her for violating her probation and the court order, and convicted her last month. Her defense? She blamed everyone but herself, and even at this last court proceeding, wanted to appear only by telephone. The judge had to order her brought to court.

Paris Hilton is no child. She’s twenty-six years old. She has all the money she needs to hire the best lawyers to represent her. For that matter, she had all the money she needed to hire a driver after her license got suspended. Not too many of us have those kinds of resources, but she does, and she decided to flout the law and her probation anyway.

Did her parents bring her up poorly? It seems that way. Does it matter now? No. She’s far past the age for taking responsibility for her own actions. Instead, she has acted with contempt for the laws, for the safety of others on the road, and for the court in which she was called to answer for her actions. Paris Hilton deserves no sympathy for her sentence, nor for the crying jag and histrionics she displayed when she finally figured out that she had pushed her self-centeredness just a little too far.

For lack of a better political label, I am a libertarian. By profession, I’m an attorney. I have a love for liberty and a respect for the law. And that’s why this is so easy for me.

Quite honestly, it’s plain and simple. Paris Hilton broke the law. And it’s a law that I think is legitimate. You drive drunk you endanger me, my family, and everyone else. Unless you’re an Rockwellian anarchist who rejects the idea of any reasonable government regulation, the idea that someone who’s intoxicated should not be driving an automobile is so plain-and-simple obvious that it’s barely worthy of discussion.

And if you’re convicted of doing so, the punishment of losing your license to drive seems entirely reasonable.

She was given a chance to avoid going to jail and she blatantly and publicly flaunted it. I’m not sure what the law in California is, but in my neck of the woods, 45 days in jail would’ve been the least of her worries.

A Ron Paul Money Surge ?

Both Radley Balko and Andrew Sullivan are blogging about this report from Free Market News Network about an apparent up-tick in contributions to Ron Paul’s Presidential campaign:

Congressman Ron Paul’s donations have moved up – not by hundreds of thousands – but by millions as a result of his debate performances and groundswell of support on the Internet and in New Hampshire, observers close to the campaign say.

The move is especially impressive since as of March 31, 2007, he had perhaps $500,000 on hand (see candidate estimates below).

FMNN had previously reported – after the GOP presidential debate in South Carolina – that candidate Ron Paul’s (R-Tex) donations, large and small, had nearly doubled.

(…)

Now observers close to the campaign are revealing – with some astonishment – that donations to the campaign in recent weeks have pushed the total up to perhaps $4 or $5 million. “That’s a huge number at this stage,” says one observer. “That starts to put him in a position where he can compete – state by state, anyway – with the major candidates.”

If true, this could be an interesting development. And there’s no confirmation that this is what is actually happening.

Nonetheless, as Andrew points out, if it is true, it means that Ron Paul would be a player in the Presidential race for longer than anyone, including myself, thought. And, at the very least, it would mean that there would be someone in the Republican Party talking about individual liberty and limited government.

And that, quite frankly, can only be a good thing.

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