Monthly Archives: August 2007

Padilla — Results Buttresses Bush & His Detractors

Jose Padilla was tried and convicted in a civilian court of law, and this result is being claimed as a victory for both sides.

The Bush administration can point to this victory as a sign of it’s ability to find and prove that Padilla was in fact guilty of being an active supporter of terrorism:

The guilty verdict against Jose Padilla showed the Bush administration could win a high-profile terrorism conviction despite questions over whether it acted legally in detaining the U.S. citizen for 3-1/2 years without charges.

Given the way that this case came down for the Administration, they should be happy to take what they can get. Had he been exonerated, it would have been a big black mark on their ability to prosecute the War on Terror here at home.

Even so, he was never charged with the “dirty bomb” plot for which he was originally apprehended, and only convicted for being a part of an existing terrorism investigation on other matters.

This has two implications. First, it shows that Bush need not rely on detaining suspects as “enemy combatants” and never bringing them to trial. It suggests that if he has enough evidence to consider someone a terrorist, it is possible to give that suspect a fair hearing in court. Second, it shows that this is possible in civilian court, not only in military tribunals. Both suggest a victory for habeas corpus and accountability of government. Both suggest a defeat for the secretive tactics– dangerous to liberty– that this administration used.

This result can be seen as a victory for the adminstration, but only so far as it was not a major defeat. On the other hand, the case can be seen as support for those who have always claimed that the detention of enemy combatants is illegal, by giving them cause to also claim that it is unnecessary. Even more importantly, to see that we can apprehend and convict terrorists without the attack on civil liberties that the Bush administration claims are necessary is a win for America and the rule of law.

Where’s Michael Moore When We Need Him?

I just ran across this interesting blogpost by Debbie Schlussel about a man by the name of Francisco Chaviano and his experiences with the Cuban healthcare system.

Remember Michael Moore’s flash-in-the-pan “Sicko” movie, which didn’t last long in theaters? Remember how Moore showed us 9/11 rescue workers getting instant, excellent, VIP healthcare in Havana, Cuba?

Well, don’t tell Francisco Chaviano how great CastroCare is. The Cuban dissident was paroled last week after 13 years behind bars, Cuba’s longest serving political prisoner. His crime: He was fighting for human rights in Cuba. So, in 1994, a secret Cuban military court sentenced him to 15 years in prison for “revealing state secrets.”

[…]

Now, Chaviano has a lung tumor and heart problems, which haven’t been treated at all in Cuba, the country whose healthcare the flabulous Michael Moore loves so much (but yet doesn’t go there to get his own check-ups). Chaviano hopes to come to–drum roll, please–America for surgery.

But he’s not sure Cuba will let him leave. Maybe Michael Moore can do the right thing and talk to his friend Fidel to get Chaviano freed from the country for proper healthcare here in America.

One of the good results of Michael Moore’s crockumentary is that at least a few of the 9/11 first responders received treatment for their injuries. I think Schlussel makes a great point here: Michael Moore should use this same clout with Castro to help this man receive the healthcare he needs. Perhaps he should give Mr. Chaviano his “Sicko Card” so that he can demand healthcare from Cuba or demand that he can leave the socialist island paradise for America. I’m sure that since Cuba’s healthcare system is so much more superior to ours, this should not be a problem.

Related Posts:
“SiCKo” Patients Received Better Treatment than the Average Cuban by Stephen Littau
PETA Swerves Into the Truth by Stephen Littau
Single-Payer Health Care Doesn’t Work, And Michael Moore Is Wrong by Doug Mataconis
“You Like Europe’s Health Care So Much? Then Go Live There” by guest blogger UCrawford

Venezuela — Corrupt As Hell, Income Inequality Rising

Chavez is known for his defenders. I’ve noticed quite often that the ones that comment here seem to think we’re all a bunch of “gringos” who want to exploit the poor and ruin Chavez’ socialist revolution. And I understand, of course… After all, I’m just a blogger. What credibility do I have on Venezuela, other than my study of the history of socialist nations?

But today, I’ve got good news. No longer do I have to rely on my own reading of the facts to call Chavez a corrupt dictator who is running his nation into the ground and offering little more than lip service to the nation’s poor. I’ve got the World Bank and The Economist to do it for me! From The Economist (subscription may be required):

Mr Chávez proclaims that “being rich is bad”. He frequently lashes out at what he calls “the oligarchy”. Strange, then, that the streets of Caracas are clogged with big new 4x4s (Hummers are especially favoured), it is hard to get a table at the best restaurants, and art dealers and whisky importers have never had it so good. A new oligarchy seems to be rising in Venezuela on the back of the “Bolivarian Revolution”, named for the country’s independence hero.

Their prosperity owes much to an oil windfall: the price of Venezuela’s main export has increased almost eightfold since 1999 and the economy has been growing at 10% a year. But government policies, too, have favoured the bankers and other intermediaries: inflation is close to 20% and the official value of the currency is twice its black-market exchange rate. So the savvy investor looks for access to cheap dollars, import opportunities and government contracts, all of which are largely conditional on political obedience. By contrast, manufacturers and farmers face price controls and risk sporadic official harassment. The result has been the rise of what is known, in obeisance to Bolívar, as the “Boli-bourgeoisie”.

This is typical socialism. When a private company makes a decision to award a contract (paying for it with their own money), they make the decision based on who they think is most likely to provide the best service at the most competitive price. When the government makes the decisions of who gets key contracts, spending taxpayer dollars with no accountability, those decisions are made based on who has the most political pull.

And are the poor being served? Only if they’re politically connected. If they’re regular hardworking non-political people, they may just starve:

Mr Chávez claims to be pursuing economic nationalism and “endogenous development”. But farmers and manufacturers struggle against cheap imports. Though local dairy products are often missing from the supermarket shelves, Gouda and Emmenthal cheeses nestle beside Irish butter. The frozen chickens at Mercal, a government chain of subsidised grocery shops, are Brazilian. The importers who supply Mercal have grown rich. But Venezuela’s ranchers are becoming extinct, threatened by expropriations, land invasions and price controls, as well as by extortion and kidnappings by criminal gangs.

After all, Chavez’ rule is that “being rich is bad”, and that businessmen are evil. But there’s a corollary to that rule. If the businessmen support Chavez, they should be rich and they’re no longer evil.

And through all of this, his socialist rule isn’t even promoting “income equality”, one of the cardinal tenets of socialism:

Thanks to economic growth and social programmes, the government claims that only 30% of Venezuelan families now live in poverty, down from 55% at the peak in 2003. But according to a new report by the central bank, income inequality has widened slightly under Mr Chávez: the Gini coefficient—a statistical measure of inequality—has gone from 0.44 in 2000 to 0.48 in 2005.

Officials stress that two-thirds of the poor have benefited directly from government social policies. As well as Mercal, these include the “missions”, which offer education and health care. Up to 2m people get a small cash stipend. But despite hefty increases in the minimum wage and price controls on basic goods, inflation is eating away at the gains.

Whether you believe that the Venezuelan govenrment’s numbers on poverty are true (and I don’t), the fact that income inequality is rising is contrary to Chavez’ goals. In fact, income inequality is even higher than here in the USA!* In Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela, the rich get richer, and the poor can’t buy groceries.

Hugo Chavez may have put the snow job on Barbara Walters, but I don’t think he can fool the World Bank:

For those with connections, however, the rewards are great. The World Bank recently ranked Venezuela as the second-worst country in the Americas for the control of corruption, above only Haiti. Others confirm this perception. “We usually ask for 10%,” a foreign diplomat reports one government official admitting. “But some get greedy and want 15-20%.”

Does anyone else find it strange that the same people who criticize BushCo for their ties to Halliburton and “Big Oil” champion a corrupt dictator like Chavez, doling out wealth and riches to those with the most political pull? ¿Quién es el diablo, ahora?
» Read more

Rudy Giuliani: US Foreign Policy Contributed to Terrorism

Many of you remember when Rudy Giuliani was outraged when Ron Paul asserted that U.S. foreign policy contributed to Al Queda targetting the United States.

Well, apparently Giuliani now agrees with Ron Paul, to a point. In his article on Foreign Policy in Foreign Affairs Magazine, Rudy Giuliani wrote:

Idealism should define our ultimate goals; realism must help us recognize the road we must travel to achieve them. The world is a dangerous place. We cannot afford to indulge any illusions about the enemies we face. The Terrorists’ War on Us was encouraged by unrealistic and inconsistent actions taken in response to terrorist attacks in the past. A realistic peace can only be achieved through strength.

In other words, while Ron Paul thinks that the U.S. government should stop hurting people if we wish them to stop hating us, Giuliani’s motto seems to be Oderint Dum Metuant, or “Let them hate so long as they fear”, which I recall was a favorite saying of the Roman emperor Caligula.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Does von Eschenbasch deserve a pension or probation?

In 2001, two parents were convicted of manslaughter in Colorado for allowing their daughter to die from untreated diabetes-related infection. Had she been taken to a doctor, she would likely have lived. Several of her surviving siblings were also found to be sick with strep throat, with which they had apparently been infected for months.

The parents were punished with probation in lieu of confinement and are marked with the stigma of being felons.

This is most unjust, since regulators working for the FDA are committing the same crime and are being praised and rewarded, even though they are harming not a handful of defenseless children, but millions of their countrymen as the CATO institute points out:

Over the past five years, the Alliance has pushed for access to 12 exceptionally promising investigational cancer drugs which have subsequently been approved by the FDA and now represent standard care. At the time we began our advocacy, each of the drugs had cleared at least preliminary Phase 1 testing, and in some cases more-advanced Phase 2 or Phase 3 trials. In other words, they obviously worked for some patients. …

In sum, these 12 drugs — had they been available to people denied entry to clinical trials — might have helped more than one million mothers, fathers, sons and daughters live longer, better lives. We have actually underestimated the number of “life-years” lost at more than 520,000, because we have not included other safe and effective uses of these drugs that the FDA has yet to approve. …

The American Cancer Society reports that some 550,000 cancer patients die annually, making the number of cancer deaths from 1997 to 2005 about 4.8 million. Over that same period, the FDA reports granting individual access to an investigational drug to not more than 650 people per year for all diseases and drugs — a pathetic, even cruel, pittance. A few thousand more patients managed to gain access by enrolling in relatively small clinical trials or exceedingly rare expanded access programs. The other 4.7 plus million cancer patients, not to mention millions more with other diseases, were abandoned to die, denied access to progress by their own FDA when they needed it most.

The FDA, and its supporters put a different spin on the matter:

Public policy should discourage access to investigational drugs outside of clinical trials. Investigational treatments made available outside of clinical trials have the potential to undermine the clinical trials system. There is little incentive for a patient to participate in a clinical trial if she can obtain the investigational drug outside of the trial. This makes trial accrual difficult, and may significantly undermine the ability of the investigators to determine the efficacy and safety of the intervention. That was certainly the case with bone marrow transplant for breast cancer – because it was so widely available outside of clinical trials it was extremely difficult to accrue patients to trials, and it took many years longer than it should have to learn that the high-risk and expensive procedure provides no benefit to women with breast cancer.

Investigational treatments are by definition unproven; even the most promising data in earlier stages of trials often do not hold up. Further, there may be significant safety issues that do not emerge until well into a phase III trial. For example, the cardiotoxicity of Herceptin was not apparent in the phase II data, but emerged in the much larger phase III trial. …

It is compelling to argue that there is little harm in making an investigational therapy available to a seriously ill individual for whom there is no effective therapy, if someone is willing to pay for it. This argument does not hold upon scrutiny. To follow this to its logical conclusion completely undermines research and the concept of evidence based care. Where would the line be drawn? It would mean that any individual should have access to any drug, as long as she is willing to pay for it Emphasis added – tarran.

Single patient INDs or INDs with small numbers of patients under Tier 1 approval raise serious issues of fairness. Granting access to investigational drugs with Tier 1 approval to patients who can pay for them at a price higher than cost makes this proposed system highly inequitable. Patients with access to them would likely be very knowledgeable, well-connected, and financially privileged. They would have access to physicians who have the ability to develop a protocol for them, and are willing and able to implement it. This is not the case for most cancer patients. Resources devoted to fighting cancer should be based on the best evidence available. The off-trial process involves a great deal of time and expense for clinicians, regulators and investigators, with very little likelihood of benefit to the patient, or to accumulation of knowledge about the intervention in question, that would benefit all.

The FDA justifies its democidal campaign by claiming that while the testing delays kill tens or hundreds of thousands of people, the testing delays prevent millions more from being killed or injured by unsafe, or ineffective treatments. This is horseshit.

Dr Mary Ruwart, a former drug researcher, estimates that tens of millions of people who have died since 1962 have had their lives shortened by the FDA preventing new treatments from being sold, or having their benefits advertised. She calculates that these regulations have prevented at most 7,000 deaths from drug toxicity. Folks, these numbers are on a par with the number of people slaughtered by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

Furthermore, even if the FDA and its boosters were correct, that FDA roadblocks on treatments save more lives than they take, the FDA’s actions would be unjustified. Their actions would be unjustified for the simple reason that when an FDA official orders a pill-maker not to distribute a drug, it is an identical form of assault to the one I would be guilty of if I were to show up at the CEO’s office with a gun making a similar demand.

There is no doubt in my mind that many people who work in the FDA sincerely believe that they are, in the aggregate, helping people. I’m certain that Randy and Colleen Bates felt that they were helping their dying daughter too as they anointed her fevered forehead with oil and prayed over her as she gasped her last breaths. In the end, good intentions are no excuse for slaughter on an industrial scale. We cannot subject Randy and Coleen to the sanction of law while lauding government officials who do the same thing.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

New York City Continues To Turn Into The Nanny State

Continuing a trend that began, quite frankly, during the term of Rudy Giuliani, New York City has been at the forefront of measures that share the common assumption of believing that the government knows better how to live your life than you do.

Now, they want to prevent people from smoking around children, even in their own cars:

Smokers have already been banned from New York bars and restaurants, and soon they could be prohibited from lighting up in cars carrying minors, an idea giving added fuel to critics who say the city has become a nanny state.

A City Council member of Queens who is chairman of the council’s Environmental Protection Committee, James Gennaro, said he is planning to introduce the smoking bill next week.

“I am just seeking every opportunity I can to denormalize smoking and to try to put it out of the reach of kids,” Mr. Gennaro said. “I’ve lost family members to lung cancer and I’ve seen what happens.”

If enacted, smoking in cars with riders under the age of 18 would join a growing list of activities barred by the city, including making too much noise at night, serving trans fats in restaurants, and allowing students to carry cell phones in school.

If this passes, how far away will be the day when they ban smoking inside your own house ?

The Fair Tax Gains Momentum in Iowa Straw Poll

There have been some very encouraging developments regarding the Fair Tax movement. Brad Warbiany noted in this post that much of Mike Huckabee’s second place showing in the Iowa Straw Poll can be attributed to his support of the Fair Tax. The Americans for Fair Taxation group had a very large presence in Iowa but did not endorse any candidate in-particular. While the Mitt Romney first place campaign bused in supporters and paid their $35 voting fee, the Americans for Fair Taxation did not pay the fee for their members to vote for candidates who support the Fair Tax but apparently still were a major factor in Huckabee’s second place showing.

It seems that the other candidates have taken notice to the grass roots support for the Fair Tax as well. In my previous post, I had listed Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, and Sam Brownback as “considering other tax reform” (read: on the fence) and Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain among those opposed to the Fair Tax. Since writing that post, I found the updated scorecard for the presidential candidates which show that some have changed position and others I misread their position (Duncan Hunter is a co-sponsor of the legislation, not on the fence). While Huckabee is perhaps the most vocal proponent of the Fair Tax, Ron Paul, John Cox, Tom Tancredo, potential G.O.P candidate Fred Thompson and Mike Gravel (the only Democrat candidate who supports the Fair Tax) either endorse the Fair Tax or have stated would sign it into law if passed by congress. Even John McCain who has been on record as being opposed to the Fair Tax has apparently done a 180 to jump on board with the Fair Tax (a last ditch effort to save his campaign perhaps?). By my count, that’s 8 candidates who now support the Fair Tax!

Unfortunately, none of these candidates are considered ‘top tier’ at this point. Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Sam Brownback, and the entire Democrat field (except for Gravel) are opposed to this bold legislation. But who knows, if John McCain and some of the fence sitters could be convinced that the Fair Tax could be a winning issue, maybe some of these other candidates will also see the light. There is still plenty of time between now and Super Tuesday for them to get the message if the momentum continues to build.

All the “other” ones…

I was inspried by comments from a friend yesterday, to think up a couple of “bumpersticker” type slogans in support of the second amendment.

Which do you think would make the better bumper sticker or t-shirt:

The Second Amendment: In case they “forget” the other ones

Or…

The Second Amendment: Defending the other ones since 1791

I had originally written “the other nine”, and I still think it sounds better, but it’s technically inaccurate since there are 27 amendments; even if most of those not in the bill of rights are essentially procedural in nature, not necessarily related to fundamental rights and liberties…

…Well that, and the fact that I’m fundamentally opposed to a lot of the amendments outside of the bill or rights, either in principle, in detail, in structure, or in language… including some amendments that a minarchist like myself might be expected to support

Why?

Well, let’s go though them. I oppose:

  • the 15th, 19th, and 24th amendments: Because they were unnecessary.

    Once slavery was made unconstitutional by the 13th amendment, then all citizens who were of age (21 at the time), of all races, sexes, backgrounds, prior conditions of servitude etc… should have automatically and clearly been allowed to vote under the 14th amendment, without any requirement for literacy or taxes.

    Any construal of the 14th amendment to the contrary, or any state laws to the contrary, should have been struck down by the supreme court under the 14th (and in fact they have been ever since. The 15th and 19th are generally ignored, and the 24th is usually invoked with dubious justification).

  • the 16th Amendment: Because it establishes a de-facto slavery to the government.

    Some taxes are of course necessary, however taxes on incomes, earnings, wages, and assets are fundamentally theft or slavery.

    Additionally, the 16th amendment was never properly ratified, and was enacted fraudulently; and has since its enactment been enforced fraudulently as well, because it authorizes taxes on income not on wages.

    Income, earnings, and wages are three different things by law and by centuries of precedent, but our government has chosen to treat the 16th amendment as if it authorizes all three. A tax on wages is involuntary servitude without compensation, the very definition of slavery.

  • the 17th amendment: Because it fundamentally unbalanced our federated system of checks and balances between state and federal power, in favor of the federal government to the harm of the interests and powers of the states and the people.

    The house of representatives was meant to represent the interests of the people as individuals, and the senate was meant to represent the interests of each state. This is why representatives are apportioned by population, but senators are apportioned two per state; and why senators were meant to be selected by the government of each state as they saw fit.

    We were founded as a representative federated republic; and direct election of senators has essentially removed the middle out of those three; much to the detriment of our nation; moving us closer and closer to a simple republic (which in a nation of our size, with such diverse interests geographically, would be an unmitigated disaster)

  • the 18th and 21st amendments: Because they address an issue that is not properly a matter of law, but of morality. Passing the 18th amendment was against the principles we founded our government on, and should never have happened. The 21st therefore shouldn’t have happened either.

    Additionally, the 21st established in blackletter law the ability for the states to make their own prohibitions, which shouldn’t have been a matter for the federal constitution to address, unless it was to prohibit such state laws to be made.

  • the 22nd amendment: Because term limits are also fundamentally wrong under our system of government.

    If the people are stupid enough to elect a scumbag over and over again; so long as that scumbag hasn’t been disqualified by unlawful actions, then they should be able to run as often as they like.

    In engineering (and in the military, which share a similar mindset towards problem solving), this type of law has a saying about it: this is a technical solution to a non-technical problem (also called a hardware solution to a software problem and other variations)

    The problem is that the people are electing people they “shouldn’t.” The solution is not to make electing those people illegal; it’s to educate the electorate better so they won’t want to elect people they shouldn’t.

  • the 23rd amendment: Because the District of Columbia either IS a state, or it is not; you can’t have it half way.

    Giving DC representation in congress, electors in presidential elections, or any kind of position on the national stage is ridiculous. We don’t allow New York City to have electors separate from it’s state government, why would we allow Washington to do so.

    This is not disenfranchisement, this is clearly a structural issue. A single city should not be given the status of a state in any way. We should either leave DC without representation (including in elections), give it back to Maryland, or make it a state, with all the attendant rights and responsibilities of the people within.

  • the 27th amendment: Because it is not a structural issue, which is what the constitution and it’s amendments are intended to address.

    Congress has the power to set it’s own rules, and it’s own policies, procedures, and compensation under article one section six. There is nothing in the constitution which prevents them from changing those rules once established.

    This amendment was essentially grandstanding by politicians saying “see, we’re so committed to “good government” and “reform” that we can’t vote ourselves a pay raise without an election; and we’ve even passed a constitutional amendment to prove it”.

    I would have no issue with this amendment if it were simply a matter of law and congressional procedure. It should never have been proposed or passed as an amendment.

So, of the 17 amendments after the bill of rights, 10 of them are unnecessary, badly worded, badly written, or just plain wrong.

Man… all that from thinking about bumper stickers.

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

George Bush: The Biggest Taxer In History

The sad truth comes from David Boaz:

The Treasury Department reported Friday that federal revenues reached $2.12 trillion ($2,120,000,000,0000) for the first ten months of fiscal year 2007. In both current and inflation-adjusted dollars, that puts the federal government on course for the most revenue it’s ever collected in a year. Indeed, it’s the most revenue any government in the history of the world has ever collected. And yet it’s not enough to satisfy the voracious appetites of the spenders in Congress and the administration. Spending was $2.27 trillion for the same ten months.

(…)

It seems safe to conclude that George W. Bush will go down in history as the biggest taxer and the biggest spender ever.

I suppose congratulations are in order Mr. President, you screwed us over better than anyone else ever could.

Just Another Day In Iraq

It’s stories like this that make you wonder just what the heck we’re doing over there:

BAGHDAD, Aug. 14 — At least 175 people were killed Tuesday night by four truck bombs in a massive coordinated attack against members of a small religious sect, the Yazidis, in northern Iraq, the Iraqi army said.

The nearly simultaneous explosions, in three Yazidi communities near the town of Sinjar, added up to the deadliest attack in Iraq this year and one of the most lethal since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Hundreds of wounded people were flown or driven to hospitals, overwhelming every emergency room in the region, according to George Shlimon, vice mayor of the nearby city of Dahuk.

In Baghdad, the U.S. military reported the deaths of nine American military personnel in three incidents, including the crash of a twin-rotor Chinook helicopter. A truck bomb rendered impassable a bridge on a major route from Baghdad to the north.

If these people are so insistent on killing each other, why are we continuing to delude ourselves into believing that peaceful resolution is an even remote possibility ?

I Want To Be Invisible (To Hillary Clinton, Anyway)

Hillary Clinton’s Latest Ad:

I want to be invisible to this government.

I want my phone calls, letters, and emails to be invisible to this government.

I want my paycheck and bank account to be invisible to this government.

I want my health care choices to be invisible to this government.

I want my retirement plans to be invisible to this government.

I want my family configuration, conventional though it may be, invisible to this government.

I want the number of gallons my toilet flushes invisible to this government.

I want my newborn son to be invisible to this government, not numbered at birth and recorded in their little databases.

I want his education to be invisible to this government.

But Hillary doesn’t want that.

Hillary wants every decision you make to be visible to your government. In fact, she’d rather make your decisions for you, because you might not make them the way she thinks best. She wants to take your paycheck from you and buy everything you need for you, instead of letting you do it on your own. She thinks the government can do all and should know all, as long as she gets to be in charge.

After all, giving over all your money to Hillary to be spent on the “common good”, and letting her make your decisions, is the only way to experience true freedom, as she understands it.

How Ron Paul’s Supporters Aren’t Helping Him, Exhibit A

Over at The Crossed Pond, Rojas cites two examples of so-called supporters of Congressman Ron Paul who are doing more to sabotage his campaign than any enemy of liberty could even hope to do:

First, there’s the Alex Jones (he of the sanely titled website Prison Planet) 9/11 truth squad over at InfoWars:

A host of curious events at the Iowa Straw Poll at the weekend has raised questions as to whether there was some kind of tampering with the final vote count, with evidence to suggest Ron Paul may have been wrongly placed in fifth position behind Mitt Romney and three second tier candidates.

It was reported by local TV news stations before the event that upwards of 45,000 Republicans would arrive to meet candidates and cast their votes, however this number was dwindled down to between 30,000 and 33,000 according to the Iowa GOP’s projected figures.

The number of voters then decreased by another sizable margin to around 26,000 the next day, only for the final figure to drop EVEN FURTHER to 14,302 actual votes cast.
Even if the immediate figures of 45,000 and 33,000 were wrong and the Iowa GOP grossly overestimated the figures, with only 26,000 tickets being sold, this still does not account for the other 12, 000 tickets that suddenly disappeared. One has to ask the question why did 12,000 people buy tickets at $35 each and not vote?

Umm, dudes, maybe that’s because most of the tickets for the Ames Straw Poll are purchased not by individual voters, but by campaign organizations hoping to bring supporters to the event ? My guess is that alot of those tickets were purchased by the Romney money machine and went to waste.

And then there’s this:

The evening before the Straw Poll, a local TV news show carried a story that the expected attendance for the next day had just been increased from a maximum of 40,000 up to 45,000 – 50,000. Yet, according to the Iowa GOP, the very next day only 30,000 to 33,000 showed up.

Dudes. A few things to consider before you storm the barricades.

First of all, the Ames Straw Poll isn’t exactly a scientific sampling of the opinions of the people of Ames, the people of Iowa, or the people of the USA. It’s a Republican Party rally that, at best, measures the organizational ability of the campaigns of the people running for President. With very limited exceptions, it it has never been an accurate predictor of either the winner of the Iowa Caucuses or the winner of the Republican nomination.

Second, Congressman Paul did a heck of alot better than anyone who is only getting 3% in national polls and barely showing up in the Iowa polls would have been expected to do.

So, you know, theorizing about some vast conspiracy is both counterproductive and makes other people think you might be a little loony.

And a memo to the campaign itself. The Alex Jones’s of the world are not helping you.

John Stossel Speech on Economic Liberty at the Fair Tax Rally

John Stossel is one of the few journalists in the MSM who really understands how and why capitalism works and why socialism does not. In this speech at this Fair Tax rally held on May 15, 2007, Stossel asks the question: “Why is America prosperous?” His answer: economic liberty. Even if you are not a supporter of the Fair Tax, if you believe in economic liberty, you will enjoy this short speech.

Apparently, The French Love Ron Paul

Apparently, Ron Paul mania isn’t limited to the Continental United States:

Republicans have not been known recently for their warmth toward the French. But at least one contender for the G.O.P. nomination has developed a dedicated, if small, fan base in Paris: Representative Ron Paul of Texas, an anti-Iraq war libertarian.

The blog “Ron Paul France – Le Journal de Campagne” is leading the movement there, translating Mr. Paul’s policies and television appearances into French and analyzing American politics.

Maintained by “Emmanuel,” a 36-year-old Parisian, the blog muses on such topics as “The Major American Media and Ron Paul: An Organized Boycott?” and “Why Ron Paul Will Systematically Gain the Republican Nomination.”

So far, 44 people have “demanded” Mr. Paul visit Paris on Eventful.com, and the “blogosphère Ronpaulienne” extends beyond France. Other blogs include “Bavaria for Ron Paul” (supporters rallied on July 4 in Munich), “Ron Paul Brazil” and “Belgians for Ron Paul,” in Flemish.

Does Ron Paul even speak Flemish ?

Pope Benedict Condemns Tax Havens

Let me start this out by saying that while I was raised, baptized, and confirmed in the Catholic Church, I am far from the most religious Catholic out there. I have alot of respect, even reverence, for the traditions of the Church, but, as this latest encyclical from Pope Benedict XVI seems to confirm, the contemporary Catholic Church really has no understanding of fundamental economics:

Pope Benedict XVI is working on a doctrinal pronouncement that will condemn tax evasion as “socially unjust”, according to Vatican sources.

In his second encyclical – the most authoritative statement a pope can issue – the pontiff will denounce the use of “tax havens” and offshore bank accounts by wealthy individuals, since this reduces tax revenues for the benefit of society as a whole.

It will focus on humanity’s social and economic problems in an era of globalisation. Pope Benedict intends to argue for a world trade and economic system “regulated in such a way as to avoid further injustice and discrimination”, Ignazio Ingrao, a Vatican watcher, said yesterday.

The encyclical, drafted during his recent holiday in the mountains of northern Italy, takes its cue from Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples), issued 40 years ago. In it the pontiff focused on “those peoples who are striving to escape from hunger, misery, endemic diseases and ignorance and are looking for a wider share in the benefits of civilisation”. He called on the West to promote an equitable world economic system based on social justice rather than profit.

Leaving aside the fact that the encyclical ignores historical facts such as the complete failure of any economic system based on the idea of “an equitable world system based on social justice rather than profit,” it’s disturbing that the Church seems to ignore history, and the complete and abject failure of that laboratory of socialism known as the Soviet Union and it’s allies. Moreover, given the fact that socialism in power has traditionally been an enemy of religion, one would think that the Church would think twice about endorsing its underlying premises.

So, yes, according to the Catholic Church, taking steps to prevent the state from taking your property is wrong.

Something tells me there’s something wrong with that idea to begin with.

Cross-Posted at Below The Beltway

Eliminate The Home Mortgage Interest Deduction ?

That’s exactly what one economist argues:

Why do we subsidize mortgage interest? More than Social Security–the benefits of which are taxed–it’s the most sacred cow in the Federal Budget. But it’s a truism that a subsidy yields higher prices. Home sellers can charge more because buyers are effectively subsidized by their ability to deduct mortgage interest. The purpose of the deduction is to encourage home ownership even though the deduction extends to people who hardly need government largesse. Canada has no mortgage interest deduction and yet its rates of home ownership are comparable to those in the United States. In other words, if we phased out the deduction, it probably wouldn’t reduce the rate of home ownership.

(…)

We should have a debate about whether we really need it any more and how it might be phased out without disrupting the economy and the lives of homeowners, many of whom already find themselves in turmoil because of the subprime collapse.

It’s a radical proposal no doubt, but I think that Cooper has a point here. To extent that taxation has to exist at all, it should exist solely for the purpose of raising revenue. From the beginning of the income tax, though, Congress and the White House have used it as an instrument of social policy; accomplishing things via the tax code that they’d never be able to pull off if they actually had to pay for it.

Like Social Security, though, the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction has become a political sacred cow. Anyone who even came close to suggesting it’s elimination would, no doubt, find themselves buried by protesting homeowners and lobbyist from the building industry, the legal profession, and the National Association of Realtors. All of whom will no doubt argue that such a move would destroy the housing industry.

As Nick Gillespie notes, though, Congress did something like this back in 1986 when it eliminated the deduction for credit card interest and, contrary to predictions, that industry has thrived over the past 20 years.

Huckabee’s Results In Iowa Poll — It’s The FairTax, Stupid!

In the Iowa straw poll, Huckabee came in for a surprising 2nd place finish. Both Doug and Kevin seemed almost shocked by this result, and suggested that this is a major shot in the arm to his campaign. This may be seen by some that he’s a much stronger force than originally understood, and that as an Arkansas boy, he will have a lot of previously unrecognized support in the heartland.

But this is missing a crucial point, a point which is easily exploited by the nature of the Iowa straw poll. As previously mentioned, Romney basically won by pouring money into the poll. You spend enough to bus in your supporters and pay for their tickets, and you’ll do pretty well. So this poll can’t be taken as necessarily a representation of exactly what the electorate is thinking, rather it’s a representation of who put in the time and effort to mobilize their supporters.

Granted, Huckabee doesn’t have a huge warchest, so he hasn’t done well due to monetary influence. But there’s another explanation. Huckabee is the only candidate in the field who is an outspoken supporter of the FairTax.

I’ve long thought that the FairTax would be a much more efficient, effective, and fair method of taxation than our current hodgepodge of loopholes and hidden taxes that have enriched our politicians for years. In fact, I used to be a fairly strong proponent of the FairTax, and was a contributor to the FairTax Blog. For several reasons, I’ve since backed away from active support for the proposal, largely because I don’t trust the government to actually implement it properly, and my fears that they might add this in addition to other taxes, not as a replacement for those taxes, has grown. But the plan, as designed, is pretty solid.

And the supporters of the FairTax are a pretty rabid bunch. Where I used to live in Atlanta, a FairTax rally filled the Gwinnett Arena and had hundreds or thousands of people turned away at the doors because they couldn’t enter, and that’s after several thousand were already there. The FairTax Book was a national best-seller. All this over tax policy!

Clearly the FairTax crowd can mobilize support. And as I’m still on some of their email lists, I can tell you that they were pushing for support and a big turnout. It makes perfect sense, knowing FairTax supporters, that the strong showing by Huckabee was more due to support for this policy than support for him.

So I decided to run over and check my usual source for prognostication, intrade.com. Huckabee, even after the straw poll results, is still trading about a 3 point share for the nomination. He’s even behind Gingrich at this point. Ron Paul, who had half the number of votes Huckabee had, is currently trading about a 4.5 point share, and that’s up from a week or two ago.

I’m not yet ready to believe that Huckabee’s result in Iowa is anything more than a concerted effort by FairTax proponents to get out the vote. Unless and until I see a significant move in his numbers on intrade, I won’t consider this support to be real.

Monday Open Thread: Karl Rove Edition

So this will be the big thing in the news, and all the talking heads will be offering their analysis. I’ll open the floor on this one.

What will this mean for the future of the Bush presidency? Will this turn him into a complete lame duck, or offer the chance to bring in someone else and give him a bit of a fresh face to continue his search for a legacy that won’t include the phrase “worst president of the 21st century”?

What will this mean for the Republican party?

And what’s in the future for Rove? I know the talking heads are discussing his plans to write a book, but is he really just leaving now to find a new horse to back in ’08?

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