Monthly Archives: October 2007

The Club For Growth Grades Ron Paul’s Economic Record

The Club For Growth released another White Paper on the economic policies and records of the various Presidential candidates, and this time it’s all about Ron Paul.

“Ron Paul’s record contains some very laudable components,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “On taxes, regulation, and political speech, his record is superb. His spending record is impressive, though Paul has recently embraced pork-barrel projects in direct contradiction to his vociferous opposition to unconstitutional appropriations by the federal government.”

Unfortunately, his stubborn idealism often takes Ron Paul further away from achieving the limited-government, pro-growth philosophy he advocates. This is certainly the case with school choice, free trade, tort reform, and entitlement reform, in which he votes against vital free trade agreements, competitive school choice initiatives, and tort reform proposals.

“While we give Ron Paul credit for his philosophical ideals, politicians have the responsibility of making progress, and often, Ron Paul votes against making progress because, in his mind, the progress is not perfect,” Mr. Toomey continued. “In these cases, although for very different reasons, Ron Paul is practically often aligned with the most left-wing Democrats, voting against important, albeit imperfect, pro-growth legislation. Ron Paul is, undoubtedly, ideologically committed to pro-growth limited-government policies, but his insistence on opposing all but the perfect means that under a Ron Paul presidency we might never get a chance to pursue the good too.”

Now, before this sends all you Ron Paul supporters off on a rampage, there are a few things to keep in mind here. The Club for Growth is not a radical libertarian organization, and certainly not as radical as Ron Paul on economic issues. They describe themselves like this:

Club for Growth is a national network of thousands of Americans, from all walks of life, who believe that prosperity and opportunity come through economic freedom. We work to promote public policies that promote economic growth primarily through legislative involvement, issue advocacy, research, training and educational activity.

The primary tactic of the separate Club for Growth PAC is to provide financial support from Club members to viable pro-growth candidates to Congress, particularly in Republican primaries.

In other words, they are dedicated to working within the system to achieve progress toward economic freedom in a manner that might be described, in a non-pejorative sense, as realistic rather than radical. It’s not surprising that they’d be sympathetic too, but a little put off by, someone who talks about eliminating the Federal Reserve and returning to the gold standard.

And the CoG’s assessment isn’t totally negative in any respect. Take this on taxes (footnotes in original text omitted):

Ron Paul’s record on taxes is excellent, epitomized by his rallying cry for phasing out the IRS. A strong believer in the economic benefits of tax cuts, he declared in a 2006 article, “I reject the notion that tax cuts harm the economy. The economy suffers when government takes money from your paycheck that you otherwise spend, save, or invest. Taxes never create prosperity.” Over his career, he has backed up his speeches and articles with many pro-growth votes

And this on spending:

Rep. Paul’s strong belief in limited government translated into an impressive list of votes against increased federal spending

Although they do note the following (again, footnotes omitted):

Despite this impressive record, Ron Paul’s history contains some curious indiscretions, including a vote for $232 million for federally mandated election reform (only 1 of 21 Republicans to vote for it) and a vote against the line-item veto -even after it was modified to pass constitutional muster. Paul’s record on pork was outstanding in 2006, voting for all 19 of Jeff Flake’s anti-pork amendments in 2006, but his record took a stark turn for the worse in 2007, in which Paul received an embarrassing 29% on the Club for Growth’s RePORK Card, voting for only 12 of the 50 anti-pork amendments.

Others have criticized Paul’s record on earmarks and I won’t do so here. Instead, I’ll point out that I think that the CoG has it entirely wrong on the line-item veto issue. The Supreme Court emphatically decided, and Articles I and II of the Constitution make clear, that any attempt to expand the President’s veto power by allowing him to veto specific spending items in a bill cannot pass Constitutional muster; if you want a line-item veto, amend the Constitution to provide for one. Since I think that even legislators have a duty to vote against bills they believe are unconstitutional, Paul’s vote against the line-item veto was, I think, correct.

The Club also criticizes Paul on issues like trade, regulation, and entitlement reform; not so much because they disagree with him, but because they seem to think that his insistence on reforms that, at least at present, are not politically attainable, neglects support for measures that, while not perfect, do move toward the free market ideal:

When it comes to limited government, there are few champions as steadfast and principled as Representative Ron Paul. In the House of Representatives, he plays a very useful role constantly challenging the status quo and reminding his colleagues, despite their frequent indifference, that our Constitution was meant to limit the power of government. On taxes, regulation, and political free speech his record is outstanding. While his recent pork votes are troubling, the vast majority of his anti-spending votes reflect a longstanding desire to cut government down to size.

But Ron Paul is a purist, too often at the cost of real accomplishments on free trade, school choice, entitlement reform, and tort reform. It is perfectly legitimate, and in fact vital, that think tanks, free-market groups, and individual members of congress develop and propose idealized solutions. But presidents have the responsibility of making progress, and often, Ron Paul opposes progress because, in his mind, the progress is not perfect. In these cases, although for very different reasons, Ron Paul is practically often aligned with the most left-wing Democrats, voting against important, albeit imperfect, pro-growth legislation.

Ron Paul is, undoubtedly, ideologically committed to pro-growth limited government policies. But his insistence on opposing all but the perfect means that under a Ron Paul presidency we might never get a chance to pursue the good too.

It’s an interesting question, really, do you insist on the perfect or accept something less than perfect as an advance toward your ultimate goal ? As I’m learning as I read Brian Doherty’s book on the history of the libertarian movement in America, this is a debate that’s been going on for half a century now. Given the nature of the American political system, pursuit of the perfect while neglecting the good typically ends in failure — the American electorate is not revolutionary at the ballot box.

I’m sure that the most strident Ron Paul supporters out there will jump down the CoG’s throat over this but keep something in mind before you do —— we’re all on the same side in this fight folks, we just disagree about how to achieve the goal.

You can find the complete Club for Growth report here.

Genarlow Wilson: The Rest Of The Story

There’s an interesting post-script to the Genarlow Wilson story at this afternoon.

In it, Wilson discusses why he rejected a plea deal back in 2005 that would have kept him of prison.

The reason is pretty clear — pleading guilty would have ruined his life just as much as the prison sentence did:

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) — Genarlow Wilson, freed last week from a Georgia prison, said he’s glad he rejected a plea deal from prosecutors, even if it would have sprung him from prison months earlier.

The 21-year-old, who served two years of a 10-year sentence for aggravated child molestation, said the prospect of being labeled a sex offender drove him to turn down the deal. He had to think about his 9-year-old sister and having a family of his own one day, he said Sunday.

“It might’ve been lesser time, but then again, I would have nowhere to go because I would have no home,” Wilson said during a CNN interview scheduled to air Monday at 8 p.m.

“I wouldn’t be able to stay with my mother because I have a little sister. You know, when you’re a sex offender you can’t be around kids. Basically, I can’t even have kids myself, you know, so what is the point of life?” he asked.

And that raises all on it’s own the interesting question of whether we’ve gone over-board in the whole sex offender craze. In the criminal justice system, with the exception of murder, there is almost no crime that justifies a sentence of life in prison (or death), and most people who commit even the most violent felonies are eligible to be released at some point after serving their time. This is as true of sex offenders as it is of carjackers and thieves.

When felons are released from prison, they are required to report to parole or probation officers, but only for a set amount of time, not for life. Unless they offend again, the presumption is that they’ve served their debt to society, and reformed themselves to life within the bounds of the law. If that’s not the case, then they’ll end up back in prison.

What we’ve done, though, is create an entire classification of crime — the sex offense — that is considered so especially heinous that the people who are convicted of it are essentially branded for life. And the consequences of receiving such a classification are quite severe. Typically, they aren’t allowed to work around children, live in the same home as a child, or live within a certain distance from a school or other place where children gather. Depending on the type of offense, they may also be barred from owning or using a computer or accessing the Internet.

Viscerally, there is a certain amount of logic to this. Our society, like any other healthy society, is protective of it’s children (some might argue overly protective, but I won’t address that argument here). When someone harms a child in this way, the gut reaction of most people, including myself, is to do whatever it takes to punish them and make sure they can never  do it again.

The problem is that we’ve gotten to the point where the type of offense that can lead to someone being branded a child sex offender has become so broad and all encompassing that it snares the innocent act along with the cunning pedophile, and the Genarlow Wilson case is a prime example. Thanks to the Georgia Supreme Court, Wilson will not have to worry about spending the rest of his life branded with the scarlet letter of someone who has abused a child (a ridiculous designation under the facts of his case). However, had the Court not intervened, he would have not only spend the next eight years in prison, he would have spent the rest of his life branded a sex offender, all because he had oral sex with his girlfriend when he was 17.

The question is — how many other Genarlow Wilson’s are there out there ?

Fighting The Fairness Doctrine

In today’s Wall Street Journal, John Fund writes about the one-man war against the Fairness Doctrine being fought by Congressman Mike Pence:

Mr. Pence is proposing the Broadcaster Freedom Act, a bill that would permanently bury the Fairness Doctrine. Because House Democratic leaders are unlikely to allow it to come to the floor for a vote, Mr. Pence has launched a “discharge petition,” a device to bypass House committees and move the bill directly to the floor. He needs 218 members–a House majority–to sign the petition. He has collected 185 signatures, but all from Republicans. Democrats are being told by their leadership that signing such a petition would undermine their control of the House.

Mr. Pence, says that “freedom should not be a partisan issue” and that he is optimistic that he can collect the signature of every Republican and then pluck off some 20 of the Democrats who voted for his one-year moratorium last summer (he’d need at least 18).

The stakes are high. “Lovers of liberty must expose calls to restore the Fairness Doctrine for the fraudulent power-grab that they plainly are,” writes Brian Anderson, editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.

The fight is about more than just so-called right-wing domination of talk radio, it’s about the state’s ability to control what we hear, and, as Fund points out, the advocates of the Fairness Doctrine has something in mind other than just balance:

[T]he attempts to control the airwaves won’t stop with so-called equal time rules. Al Franken, the liberal former Air America host who is now running for the Senate in Minnesota, is already slipping into the role of potential legislative censor of his old industry. “You shouldn’t be able to lie on the air,” he told Newsweek’s Mr. Fineman earlier this year. “You can’t utter obscenities in a broadcast, so why should you be able to lie? You should be fined for lying.”

In fact, you can be “fined” for lying, if the person you lie about successfully sues for defamation. But the First Amendment makes it exceedingly difficult for defamation plaintiffs to prevail, especially if they are public figures–and for good reason. Under a more pro-plaintiff legal regime, “the pall of fear and timidity imposed upon those who would give voice to public criticism is an atmosphere in which the First Amendment freedoms cannot survive,” Justice William Brennan wrote in New York Times v. Sullivan (1964).

As Fund points out, there was a time when Justice Brennan was a liberal hero, but that was when it suited their political goals.

Ron Paul’s Second New Hampshire Television Ad

Well, I’ll say this much. It’s better than the first commercial, mostly because it’s just the candidate talking about what he believes. The message pure end the Iraq War and bring the troops home from everywhere. with a paen to something that the United States Government hasn’t seen in a long time — a balanced budget.

But what’s this about saving money to “help people who need it” ? I thought we were talking about cutting the budget to the bone and letting me keep my money, not changing our foreign policy so we can keep some semblance of a welfare state (i.e., Social Security and Medicare) alive.

Yes, I know this is meant for people who aren’t exactly true believers, but what’s the point of making them think that all you want to do is bring the troops home so that we can save a social welfare scheme that was doomed to fail the day FDR proposed it ?

That said, this ad is much better than the first one.

Ron Paul Paid 9/11 “Truther” Alex Jones?

Beth at the blog My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has uncovered evidence that Ron Paul has paid 9/11 Troofer kook Alex Jones $1,300″.

For the Paulistians and others who will be on this thread shortly to attack me, say I’m part of the New World Order, accuse me of being on the payroll of Israel, call me a warmonger, etc.; let me lay a few things out on the table.

1) What did Ron Paul pay Alex Jones for? Under FEC rules, a candidate not required to disclose the reasons why a candidate pays a person.

2) Are there two different people named Alex Jones who support Ron Paul and perhaps I’m confusing this other Alex Jones for the kook talk show host?

3) If Ron Paul did pay the kook Alex Jones, will Ron Paul renounce Alex Jones and pledge not to pay Alex Jones again?

4) Will Ron Paul renounce the kooks, racists, anarchists, and other fringe types that have hopped on board his campaign, or will he continue to welcome them with pretty much open arms?

UPDATE: I’m not buying the theory being kicked around by some of the Ronulans in the comments that this was a refund. The receipt shows that Alex Jones contributed the maximum allowed by law and that no refund was necessary. Also, if you’re going to distance yourself from someone, you would give back the entire donation, not a portion of it.

UPDATE #2: The $1,300 was a refund. If this (partial) refund is an attempt to distance himself from Alex Jones, Ron Paul can be clearly called a coward. He did not have the guts to completely refund the Jones contribution. Nor does Ron Paul want to completely distance himself from the 9/11 kooks. So Ron, do you believe 9/11 was an inside job or not? What other Alex Jones kook conspiracy theories do you buy since you don’t want to distance yourself from him?

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

John Edwards Wants To Censor The Medical Information You Receive

Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards is proposing that drug companies be prevented from informing the public of the possible beneficial effects of their products:

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards says prescription drug companies should have to wait two years to begin advertising their new products to consumers.

Edwards on Sunday was outlining a plan to regulate what he views as a proliferation of misleading drug ads. In the decade since the government relaxed rules on advertising directly to consumers, spending on prescription drug ads has nearly quadrupled to more than $4 billion a year, he said in prepared remarks.

“With such aggressive and often misleading drug company marketing, it’s too easy for advertising — instead of doctors or proven results — to influence families’ health decisions,” Edwards said in excerpts of his speech provided to The Associated Press. “But the (Food and Drug Administration) has been an ineffective watchdog, reviewing only a small fraction of ads.

“It’s time to stand up to the drug companies and their lobbyists who have rigged the system. It’s time to stand strong for families, patients and doctors,” said Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina.

Besides the two-year delay on new-drug advertising, he would require drug companies to get FDA approval before launching major ad campaigns. He also would increase penalties for companies that violate truth-in-advertising laws and would require companies to disclose more information about a drug’s side effects and effectiveness compared to placebos and alternative drugs.

Because, you see, you’re too stupid to evaluate this information for yourself and you need a gatekeeper — whether it’s the government or your doctor — to tell you what to think.

Yet another example of the Nanny State paternalism that makes me conclude that there’s no hope for liberty in the Democratic Party.

The Case Against An Elected Judiciary

Today’s Washington Post writes about the extent to which partisan politics has inserted itself into that peculiarly American institution, the judicial election:

Judicial elections are an almost uniquely American invention, with a patchwork of more than 16 selection systems spread across the country. In the 21 states that hold direct partisan and nonpartisan elections for the high court, some already have evolved from quiet, down-ballot contests to full-blown campaigns with consultants and multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns. An Illinois Supreme Court contest in 2004 cost more than 18 of the 34 U.S. Senate contests that year, and candidates for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court last year raised a total of $8.2 million.

The spending increases in large part reflect a decision by business groups to get involved in the contests. The National Association of Manufacturers announced in 2005 that it was establishing the American Justice Partnership to promote tort reform in the states, and the resulting battles between trial lawyers and business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce have led to some of the most expensive campaign battles.

But it’s not just the money that has been injected into these races that is alarming, it’s the extent to which blatantly partisan politics have injected themselves into elections for positions that are, by tradition, supposed to be above politics:

The “new politics” of judicial elections, Brandenburg said, “demands that judges be Huey Long on the campaign trail and Solomon in the courtroom and not miss a beat in between.”

Some judicial candidates have been even more outspoken than in the past since a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said some state restrictions on the speech of judicial candidates were unconstitutional.

Former Alabama chief justice Drayton Nabors, unseated in the 2006 election, said in one of his television commercials: “I’m pro-life. Abortion on demand is a tragedy. And the liberal judicial decisions that support it are wrong.”

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Max Baer declared in his 2003 campaign, “I am pro-choice and proud of it.”

Here’s the problem. The judiciary, whether it’s on the federal, state, or local level is not supposed to be a partisan branch of government. Ideally, politics aren’t supposed to play any role at all in the administration of justice.

Realistically, of course, we all know that it’s impossible to completely remove politics from the judicial process, but forcing judges, especially judges at the appellate Court level, to run in partisan elections where they are forced to take public stands on issues that are likely to come before them in Court. It comes close to violating the Code of Ethics that judges are bound by, and it gives the public the impression that the entire judicial process is something that can, and should, be influenced the same way a debate in the state legislature is. It demeans the judges who have to run for election, and it demeans the entire legal process.

An appointed judiciary has its flaws, but they are nowhere near as bad as a judiciary that is infused with the poison of democracy.

Ron Paul’s First New Hampshire Television Ad

As I understand it, these ads are set to start running this weekend or early next week.

If this is the entire ad strategy, it’s disappointing. Part of the problem with using volunteers to do campaign ads is that, usually they can’t act and they have a hard time acting like themselves when the camera light comes on. This is clearly true with a few of the people here, especially the guy with the beard at the end.

However, as I noted yesterday, the New York Times reports that there are five ads that will roll-out starting this week and, for the opening shot, this one isn’t bad at all.

Update: A note to the overwhelming number of you who seem to think this ad is a bomb. To some extent, I agree. I don’t think it was very well produced, and the “actors were, well, just bad. A few things to keep in mind, though. First, this is supposed to be step one in a five-part ad campaign — so its worth waiting to see what comes next; if the next few have similar issues, then it’s time to raise questions. Second, the campaign is obviously trying to appeal to mainstream Republican voters, not people who surf the net or watch YouTube videos. Third, I’ve watched most of the YouTube videos that some of you have referred to; they’re good for amateur work, but for television ads meant to appeal to a broad spectrum of voters, most of them don’t make the cut.

Mike Huckabee, Less Than Meets The Eye

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is, in many respects, the flavor-of-the-month in the Republican Presidential field right now. He came in a surprising second in the Ames Straw Poll back in August, and he’s been rising in the polls to the point where Rasmussen now has him ahead of Mitt Romney in their national poll. He calls himself a fiscal conservative and says he favors the Fair Tax, but, as the Club For Growth’s Pat Toomey says today, there’s much less there than meets the eye:

During Huckabee’s tenure as governor, the average Arkansan’s tax burden increased 47 percent, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A dyed-in-blue tax hiker, Huckabee supported raising sales taxes, gas taxes, grocery taxes, even nursing home bed taxes. He virulently opposed a congressional moratorium on taxing Internet access, and sat on the sidelines while his Democratic legislature pushed the largest tax hike in Arkansas history into law. What’s more, on his watch, and frequently at his behest, state spending increased by 50 percent, more than double the rate of inflation, and the number of state government workers rose by 20 percent. Yes, as a presidential candidate, Huckabee has signed on as a supporter of the Fair Tax and pledged against raising taxes, but when a candidate’s long and clear record flies in the face of his election-year symbolism, you can chalk it up to politics every time.

As Toomey points out, this is precisely not what the GOP needs if it wants to regain the voters trust on fiscal issues that it lost prior to the 2006 elections:

In order to earn back the public’s trust on economic issues, not to mention offer a compelling contrast with a Hillary Clinton-led Democratic ticket, Republicans must present a consistent message. A big-government liberal like Mike Huckabee, who takes pleasure in attacking the Republican party as the “party of Wall Street,” will only reinforce the image of Republicans as “the big spenders that they used to oppose.” A Huckabee nomination, even as vice president, will make it impossible for the Republican party to reclaim its brand of fiscal conservatism and limited government, without which it cannot be a majority party again.

Huckabee makes no secret of his desire to turn the GOP leftward, calling himself a “different kind of Republican,” adopting protectionist positions, and peppering his campaign speeches with the kind of class warfare rhetoric one expects to hear from John Edwards. No doubt, this is the reason that the liberal media is so smitten with him.

Instead of talking about curtailing government spending, Huckabee refuses to endorse President Bush’s veto of a vastly expanded S-CHIP. He is an unabashed fan of No Child Left Behind and an opponent of private school choice. Huckabee is also quickly becoming the labor unions’ favorite Republican, recently gaining a union endorsement along with Hillary Clinton.

The media’s fascination with Huckabee will most likely continue to grow; especially since he’s currently running a strong third in Iowa, but the truth of the matter is that he’s exactly the opposite of what the GOP, and America, need.

Breaking: Justice For Genarlow Wilson

This morning the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled that Genarlow Wilson’s ten year prison sentence for having consenual oral sex with his 15 year old girlfriend when he was 17 constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment,” and ordered Wilson released immediately:

Georgia’s State Supreme Court has ruled that Genarlow Wilson’s 10-year sentence for having consensual oral sex when he was a teenager is “cruel and unusual punishment” and ordered him freed.

The state court announced the ruling Friday morning.

Wilson is being held in prison for having consensual oral sex when he was a teenager, despite a judge’s ruling that he should be freed.

Wilson was convicted of aggravated child molestation for having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17.

He has served more than two years of a mandatory 10-year sentence.

The text of the Court’s opinion, in PDF format, can be found here.

Update: Further details from the Washington Post:

The 1995 law Wilson violated was changed in 2006 to make oral sex between teens close in age a misdemeanor, similar to the law regarding teen sexual intercourse. But the state Supreme Court later upheld a lower court’s ruling which said that the 2006 law could not be applied retroactively.

Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears wrote in the majority opinion that the changes in the law “represent a seismic shift in the legislature’s view of the gravity of oral sex between two willing teenage participants.”

Sears wrote that the severe punishment makes “no measurable contribution to acceptable goals of punishment” and that Wilson’s crime did not rise to the “level of adults who prey on children.”

Exactly the way this should have turned out to begin with.

Now This Is What $ 5 Million In The Bank Can Do For You

Ron Paul is about to begin a major media blitz in New Hampshire:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 — If media muscle is any measure of a candidate, Representative Ron Paul of Texas is getting ready to flex his.

In the last two weeks, Mr. Paul — a Republican presidential candidate — has spent nearly a half-million dollars on radio advertisements in four early primary states, the first major media investment of his campaign. On Tuesday night, he will take a seat opposite Jay Leno.

And on Monday, a campaign spokesman said, he will roll out his first major television advertising campaign, spending $1.1 million on five new commercials to be shown in the New Hampshire market for the next six weeks. (In contrast, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and a rival for the Republican nomination, has yet to commit to any spending for television advertisements.)

Mr. Paul’s commercials are intended to introduce him to voters in New Hampshire, where independents can vote in either primary and where a libertarian streak could give Mr. Paul a chance to translate his quirky popularity into votes.

This is where the rubber hits the road. Right now, Paul is somewhere between 5% and 7% in the polls in the one state where he’s most likely to garner more support than the conventional wisdom is expected, but with the primary now less than two months away, it’s time to make a move. Check back in about two weeks and we should see if this media campaign has had an impact on the voters.

More On Stormfront And The Ron Paul Campaign

Two weeks ago I wrote about the endorsement that Ron Paul’s campaign had received from the neo-nazi’s over at Stormfront.

Now,  its seems that the founder of the site has donated money to the campaign:

A investigation has conclusively established that a leading figure in the American neo-Nazi / White-Supremacist movement has provided financial support to Ron Paul’s 2008 Presidential campaign.

The individual in question is Don Black, the founder, owner and operator of Stormfront, a “white power” website that both professional journalists and watch-dog groups have identified as the premier English-language racist/hate-site on the Internet.

The amount in question — $ 500 — is small, but that doesn’t mean the campaign shouldn’t address it. This is, quite honestly, an issue that almost every politician faces at some point — you get a contribution from an unsavory character, or even one that is technically illegal under Federal Election Law. Even if it’s not illegal, there really is only one good PR move in a situation like this, you return the money and ask the person(s) in question not to send anymore.

You don’t building a winning coalition by letting the hatemongers in.

Exposing A Myth About Drug Legalization

One of the most common retorts from opponents of drug legalization is that making drugs available legally would lead to increased use.

Well, if Britain’s experience with the decriminalization is any indication, they’ve got it completely wrong:

Gordon Brown’s plans to tighten the law on cannabis by increasing the penalties for possession suffered a fresh blow yesterday as the latest official figures showed the decision to downgrade the drug had been followed by a significant fall in its use.

British Crime Survey statistics showed that the proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds using cannabis slumped from 28% a decade ago to 21% now, with its declining popularity accelerating after the decision to downgrade the drug to class C was announced in January 2004.


Since cannabis was downgraded the proportion of young people using it has fallen each year from 25.3% in 2003-4 to 20.9% now. Among those aged 16 to 59, the proportion over the same period has fallen from 10.8% to 8.2%.

Why might something like this happen ? Well, once illegal drugs loose their taboo status, their allure for some people, especially young people, suddenly goes away.

So the next time some drug warrior tells you that legalization will result in a nation of drug addicts, you can tell him that it ain’t necessarily so.

Confessions Of A Former “Big-L” Libertarian

Vodkapundit’s Stephen Green explains why he divorced himself from the party that once captivated him so much:

[W]e all woke up one morning to learn that airliners had crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and into the wooded hills of Pennsylvania. “Well, here’s a war even a good Libertarian like me can support.” We’d been attacked, directly, and we knew who the culprits were and where their protectors and sponsors were. We would go after them with such righteous fury that no one would dare strike New York City ever again.

Boy, was I wrong.

The angry folks at Liberty were mad at most everybody but Islamic terrorists. One even went so far as to denounce the Afghan War as “racist.” It was all imperialism this, and blowback that, and without a care in the world for protecting American lives, commerce, or, well, liberty. Then Postrel turned over Reason to Nick Gillespie, who seemed more interested in presenting libertarianism as something hip, arch, fun — and ultimately unserious. Such should have been no surprise, coming from the former editor of a magazine called Suck.

I felt abandoned, betrayed, by my comrades. By my former comrades.

If Libertarians couldn’t agree about the clear-cut case for war in Afghanistan, you can imagine how Iraq must have divided us. I had to stop reading Liberty months before my subscription finally, mercifully, ran out. Blogger friends of mine stopped emailing me. Ron Paul, whose name once graced the back of my first car, started sounding to me, less like a principled defender of American liberty, and more like a suited-up reject from the Summer of Love.

I stopped voting Libertarian for local candidates, leaving lots of blanks on my ballot. Next year, I’m not sure which party I’ll support for President, much less which candidate. From here, it looks as if the Republicans have become wrong and corrupt, the Democrats are stupid and corrupt, and the Libertarians have gone plain crazy.

Unlike Stephen, I was never a card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party and pretty much gave up on them as anything other than a protest vote after the 1992 elections. Locally, the candidates they were fielding here in Virginia were often rank amateurs who could not be taken seriously to fill the positions they were running for.

And, well, then there were just the crazy ones.

They existed before 9/11, of course, they were the one who talked about the Bilderbergers, the Council on Foreign Relations, and seemed to be able to spin an elaborate conspiracy theory to explain everything from the Kennedy Assassination to the eye above the pyramid on the back of a $ 1 Dollar Bill. There seemed to be a lot of them in the Libertarian Party circles that I did float around in early `90’s and, frankly, I wanted nothing to do with them even then.

Much like Stephen September 11th was a turning point for me as well. Leaving aside for the moment the issue of the Iraq War which I opposed from the beginning, it seemed axiomatic to me from the start that the War in Afghanistan was completely justified given the fact that it was directed against a foreign government that was harboring a terrorist group that had killed 3,000 Americans in one day and had made clear it’s intention to kill more of us.

But that’s not how many hard-core libertarians saw it. In their eyes, the war was unjust from the start, and some of them found it easier to believe that the United States Government had conspired in mass murder than that a ruthless terrorist who believed he had the blessing of Allah to murder infidels had in fact done just that, especially considering the fact that the evidence clearly supported the idea that it was the terrorists who were responsible for 9/11, not George Bush.

So the question is where does someone who believes in individual liberty, but also believes that the War on Terror is a war not only worth fighting, but a war that has to be fought go ? The Democrats aren’t an option because they’re mired in socialist economic nostrums. The Republicans, despite some individuals who still believe in individual liberty, have been nothing but a disappointment. And, well, the LP is just not worth thinking about anymore.

If anyone has the answer, let me know.

Government Funding of Science: Inherently Susceptible to Junk and Superstition.

I recently discovered the thoroughly enjoyable podcast put out by Skepticality magazine, and was browsing through some past ‘casts, when I stumbled across an interview (in Podcast #59) with Lori Lipman-Brown, a lobbyist in the employ of the Secular Coalition of America. The interview was pretty wide ranging, but at one point it focused on a battle in the U.S. House of Representatives concerning stem cell research. She recounted how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had attempted to use an interpretation of Christian theology to buttress her position. She criticized Nancy Pelosi as follows:

“We were flabbergasted when we heard her start saying that ‘stem cells are a gift from God’ and that ‘stemcell research is biblically based’ in her arguments. I mean she was going to vote the right way, but this was her argument to get other people to vote the right way. And the reason this is really horrific is-our argument is whether or not you allow stem cell research to progress shouldn’t be based on your theology, because if it is just a competition between whose theology is right. I mean President Bush, when he vetoes these bills, he bases it on God and the Bible also and his interpretation. … Making this a competition of whose theology wins is not appropriate. What you need to do is to say ‘Look this is science, this is not – we can’t have the government imposing anyone’s theology – you know, this is research, this is not about what someone’s religious belief is.” – I transcribed this myself – any deviation from what was actually said is a mistake rather than malice – tarran

In effect, she was opposed to a minority being able to block some bit of government funding for research based on moral objections rooted in superstitious beliefs.

Roman Scientific Research Into Agricultural ForecastingThis seems a reasonable position at first blush, but is, in fact, a highly immoral and, frankly impossible proposition. Let us turn to our old friends the Nazis for a demonstration, since they make for great reductio ad absurdum argumentation. » Read more

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.

Is Ron Paul Close To 10% In New Hampshire ?

A new poll being released today seems to suggest that the answer is yes:

St. Anselm College’s Institute of Politics will release a new poll today, completed by SRBI Research in New York City, showing that Clinton and Romney hold solid leads in New Hampshire.

The survey of 1,514 likely primary voters has margins of error of 4.1 percent for Democrats, 4.5 percent for Republicans and 4.8 percent for undecided voters. It was conducted Oct. 15 to 21.

It shows Democrat Clinton leading Obama 42.6 to 21.5 percent, with John Edwards at 13.9 percent. Among Republicans, Romney leads Giuliani 32.4 to 21.8 percent, with John McCain at 15.2 percent and Ron Paul in fourth place at 7.4 percent.

The poll also shows that 40 percent of self-identified independents say they were still not sure if they would vote in the Democratic or Republican primary.

This is, as far as I can tell, the highest Paul has placed in any New Hampshire poll, thought it does seem to be inconsistent with other recent polls in the state.

Economic Illogic

One economist seems to think that the recent fires in Southern California might actually help the economy:

“In the odd nature of economic accounting, this will probably be a stimulus,” said Alan Gin, a University of San Diego economist. “There will be a huge amount of rebuilding in the next couple of years, financed by insurance payments.”

Hey, let’s take this idea to it’s logical conclusion. Let’s burn down the entire state of California. Now that’ll be a real economic boom.

Right ?

Of course not.

Giuliani’s Neocon Foreign Policy Advisors

The New York Times has a report out on the foreign policy team that Rudy Giuliani has assembled, and it seems to be made up of the same bunch of guys who got us in the mess we’re in right now:

Rudolph W. Giuliani’s approach to foreign policy shares with other Republican presidential candidates an aggressive posture toward terrorism, a commitment to strengthening the military and disdain for the United Nations.

But in developing his views, Mr. Giuliani is consulting with, among others, a particularly hawkish group of advisers and neoconservative thinkers


Mr. Giuliani’s team includes Norman Podhoretz, a prominent neoconservative who advocates bombing Iran “as soon as it is logistically possible”; Daniel Pipes, the director of the Middle East Forum, who has called for profiling Muslims at airports and scrutinizing American Muslims in law enforcement, the military and the diplomatic corps; and Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who has written in favor of revoking the United States’ ban on assassination.


One of Mr. Giuliani’s most important foreign policy tutors is Charles Hill, a career diplomat and former deputy to Secretary of State George P. Shultz in the Reagan administration. Mr. Hill had never met Mr. Giuliani when he was invited to a 45-minute meeting at Giuliani Partners in late February — a meeting that stretched to nearly three hours.

Mr. Hill went on to become the campaign’s chief foreign policy adviser, and to assemble a team that is united by its generally hawkish views and its belief in using American power to achieve its aims.

Just days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Hill joined a number of foreign policy experts in signing an open letter to Mr. Bush urging that “even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.”

I’ve made it clear on this site in the past that I’m not exactly in the “bring all the troops home” crowd when it comes to foreign policy. At the same time, though, I think it’s fairly clear that the neocon foreign policy that’s been in place since September 11th and its seeming devotion to eternal war and some grand dream of imposing democracy by fiat on a region of the world that has no experience with either liberty or democracy has failed spectacularly, with Exhibit A being Iraq. The surge may have quelled violence, but it’s done nothing to turn Iraq into anything resembling a stable democracy, and there’s no reason to believe that any amount of American military force is capable of accomplishing such a goal.

The fact that Giuliani is apparently taking advice from people who still believe in this fallacy should be an indication of what his foreign policy will be like.

Supreme Court To Consider D.C. Gun Ban Appeal Request Nov. 9th

SCOTUSBlog reports that the Supreme Court will consider the Writ Of Certiorari in the two cases appealing last year’s decision overturning Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban on November 9th:

The Supreme Court will consider two petitions growing out of the Second Amendment dispute over a District of Columbia ban on private possession of handguns at its Conference on Nov. 9, according to the Court’s electronic docket on Wednesday.

The two cases are the city’s appeal — District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290) — challenging a D.C. Circuit Court ruling last March striking down the handgun ban under the Second Amendment, and a cross-petition by five city residents — Parker v. District of Columbia (07-335) — seeking to join in the case to add their own legal complaints about the city gun control law.

Because the two sides have framed the Second Amendment question in different ways in their papers in 07-290, it is conceivable that, should the Court grant review, it might choose to rephrase the issue itself.

If the requests for appeal are granted in either case, the earliest argument would be heard is February or March, with a decision coming sometime before the Court’s term ends in June 2008.

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