Monthly Archives: January 2008

Nevada Judge Says NBC Must Include Dennis Kucinich

Late yesterday, a state court Judge in Nevada said that NBC must include Dennis Kucinich (D., Mars) in tonight’s Democratic debate:

A judge in Nevada has just ordered MSNBC to include Rep. Dennis Kucinich in Tuesday’s Democratic Party presidential debate in Las Vegas or he will cancel the forum.

Senior Clark County District Court Judge Charles Thompson vowed to issue an injunction halting the nationally televised debate if MSNBC failed to comply. Kucinich had filed a lawsuit seeking to be included just this morning.

(…)

The judge ruled Monday it was a matter of fairness and Nevada voters would benefit from hearing from more than just Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama. Kucinich had been invited to participate in the 6 p.m. Pacific debate Tuesday, but that invitation was rescinded last week following the results of the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucuses that showed Kucinich trailing badly.

The problem with Judge Thompson’s ruling is that there is no such thing as a Constitution right to “fairness”, whatever that means. The Constitution, does however, have this to say:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Where in there does it authorize the state to mandate who should be invited to a completely private affair ?

Yea, I don’t see it either.

Dennis Kucinich doesn’t have a “right” to be invited to tonight’s debate, it’s really just that simple. NBC has said that they would appeal the judge’s decision to Nevada’s Supreme Court. Here’s hoping that the justices restore some sanity to this situation.

Update @4:30pm: NBC has filed it’s appeal with the Nevada Supreme Court:

The NBC television network has asked Nevada’s Supreme Court to overturn a Clark County District Court judge’s decision that Cleveland’s Dennis Kucinich must be allowed to participate in tonight’s debate for Democratic presidential candidates.

In documents filed at the court this morning, the network asserted that it decided on Jan. 10 to change its debate participation criteria, and require that candidates have finished in the top three in either the Iowa Caucus or the New Hampshire Primary.

(…)

“The revised criteria governing the January 15th debate are viewpoint neutral, and are in no way designed to exclude any particular candidate based on his or her views,” said NBC’s legal filing. “Instead, the revised criteria represent a good faith editorial choice of a privately-owned cable network to limit debate participants based on the status of their campaigns.”

NBC also questions whether Senior Judge J. Charles Thompson had jurisdiction in the case. It says the Constitution’s First Amendment protects its right to decide who will participate in a cable news debate and that its decision to rescind a prior invitation to Kucinich doesn’t constitute a breach of contract, as the candidate insists.

“If such an unprecedented theory is adopted here, it would mean that news organizations would be forbidden from making timely decisions about who or what to feature in their programming based on daily developments in news for fear that a previously invited guest could assert a breach of contract claim,” the network says in its filing. “Mr. Kucinich’s claim is nothing more than an illegitimate private cause of action designed to impose an equal access requirement that entirely undermines the wide journalistic freedoms enjoyed by news organizations under the First Amendment.”

Copies of NBC’s appeal filings are available in PDF format.

Update @ 8:15pm: The Nevada Supreme Court has reversed the trial judge’s ruling:

This just in from the state Supreme Court: NBC/MSNBC win, Kucinich loses. The congressman from Ohio won’t be on stage at the televised debate in 45 minutes.

He argued that the network offered, and then withdrew, an offer that he participate in the debate, and he protested. The court disagreed.

Finally, some sanity prevails.

End the War

The enemy has changed tactics yet again and as a result we are left scrambling to catch up. Despite a large U.S. military presence, he still manages to elude detection and moves with impunity in order to accomplish his objectives. After an investment of billions of dollars and several years of operations, it’s time to cut our losses and pull out.

MIAMI – U.S.-directed seizures and disruptions of cocaine shipments from Latin America dropped sharply in 2007 from the year before, reflecting in part a successful shift in tactics by drug traffickers to avoid detection at sea, senior American officials disclosed Monday in releasing new figures.

Navy Adm. Jim Stavridis, commander of U.S. Southern Command, which is responsible for U.S. military operations in the region, said seizures fell from 262 metric tons in 2006 to about 210 tons last year.

“It’s difficult to say why that is,” he said in an interview with three reporters who visited his headquarters with Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who expressed concern at the shift.

The 2007 figure was the lowest since 2003, other officials said. Last year’s drop broke a string of yearly increases in cocaine seizures and disruptions dating to the late 1990s. The numbers include estimates of cocaine thrown overboard or scuttled with vessels — a common response by smugglers who are detected at sea.

The biggest dropoff last year was in seizures at sea, which fell from nearly 160 metric tons in 2006 to about 100 metric tons last year, according to the figures, which are preliminary but were described by officials as reliable estimates.

“In any given contest of offense and defense you’ve got to adjust your tactics,” Stavridis said, alluding to a conclusion reached by Mullen and others that the drug cartels are nimbler than the U.S. government. They are finding new ways of eluding detection at sea, such as shipping drugs in semi-submersible vessels, and are flying drug routes from sites in western Venezuela that are harder to stop, officials said.

Mullen put it more directly during an exchange earlier Monday with several dozen officials at the headquarters of Joint Interagency Task Force South in Key West, Fla., where military and civilian agencies — including the Pentagon and the CIA — coordinate the tracking of drug shipments and drug leaders.

“The bad guy is moving faster than we’re moving,” Mullen said.

The Joint Chiefs chairman also said he is concerned at how long it might take to regain the upper hand.

“I worry a little bit about how we as a government are able to focus on this mission,” he said, noting that the counterdrug mission is a lower national security priority now than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What war did you think I was talking about?

Not that increased seizures are any evidence that the Drug War is going well, but unlike increased seizures there’s no way this can be spun into a good thing for the U.S. government. I find it a little scary that Adm. Mullen would even mention the counterdrug mission with the actual wars we’re fighting.

For that matter, does anyone else find it disturbing to see the Chairman of the JCS discussing how he’s going to prevent Americans from getting high? Not that it’s anything new, but still, it just struck me as particularly incongruous.

Supreme Court To The Sick And Dying: The Only Right You Have Is The Right To Die

Today, the Supreme Court declined to accept an appeal in a case that asks the question — do terminally ill patients have the right to access to experimental drugs ?:

The Supreme Court today declined to consider whether dying patients have a right to be treated with experimental drugs not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The court, without comment or recorded dissent, let stand a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which said the terminally ill have no constitutional right to drugs the agency had considered safe enough for additional testing.

The challenge was brought by the Washington Legal Foundation and the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs. The latter organization is headed by Frank Burroughs of Fredericksburg, and named in honor of his daughter, Abigail Burroughs, who was diagnosed at 19 and died at 21 of a form of cancer rare in someone her age.

The young woman died in 2001, and the drug she was seeking was later approved.

Because, of course, a bureaucrat in Washington has the right to decide if someone who will die anyway should try a risky procedure.

What is particularly distressing about this is that this wasn’t a ruling on the merits of the case, it was simply a ruling on whether the court would accept the case for appeal. All that’s needed to accept a case is a “yes” vote from four of the nine justices. Which means there aren’t even four members of the Supreme Court willing to give this issue the hearing it deserves.

This issue is personal to me because I have a family member who died from cancer and if there was any chance that an experimental drug or procedure would have prolonged her life, she would’ve tried it. She was my mother.

Today, the Supreme Court effectively said that she, and the millions of other people suffering from conditions that will kill them, can just die.

Michigan Predictions And Monday Open Thread

I haven’t exactly been accurate on my predictions for the primary season so far, but with only one race to worry about, maybe I’ll get it right this time.

The Republicans should turn out as follows:

  1. John McCain
  2. Mitt Romney
  3. Mike Huckabee
  4. Fred Thompson
  5. Ron Paul
  6. Rudy Giuliani

Current polls have McCain and Romney virtually tied, so that order could go either way. In the end, though, I think that McCain will pull of a win in the Wolverine State, where he also won in 2000.

As always, feel free to criticize

When Gun Rights and Property Rights Collide

THE ATLANTA JOUNAL-CONSTITIUTION - Calling it “a core fundamental issue” for his group this year, the head of the National Rifle Association lobbied hard Monday for a bill that would allow employees to keep handguns in their cars at work.

NRA Executive President Wayne LaPierre made a rare appearance under the Gold Dome Monday, a week before the Legislature convenes, to push the bill with key lawmakers.

My first instinct was to be on the side of the NRA. “What right does an employer have to prohibit me from having a firearm in my vehicle?” and “What right does my employer have in even asking and/or searching the contents of my car?” were my first thoughts. But then it occurred to me that we are dealing with a voluntary relationship between private citizens (an employer and an employee) that can be ended at any time for any reason by either party (assuming we are operating on the principle of life, liberty, and property). An employee of a company has a choice to either honor his employer’s wishes or find another job because the employer has obligation to allow employees to park on his or her property at all.

As Ayn Rand once said:

Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.

My false initial premise was that the right to bear arms was otherwise being infringed by the government but in fact this is not the case. In fact, this proposed legislation would be a violation of private property rights. McQ at QandO blog made a couple of very good points on this issue:

If you come to the door of my house wearing a pistol on your belt, I have every right to bar your entry and tell you that isn’t allowed in my home. It’s my property and I have the right to control who enters it and what goes on within its boundaries. Why wouldn’t that extend, as well, to the driveway?

[…]

And for the same reason I object to legislation which bans smoking on private property such as bars or restaurants. It is none of the state’s business. They’re welcome to ban smoking in every public venue they control, but stay away from private property. Camel’s nose, slippery slope and all that. Why do you suppose they feel empowered to go from banning smoking on private property to now dictating that private property owners must allow guns on their property?

Because we let them get away with the smoking ban, that’s why. While I don’t smoke and prefer a smoke free environment, I don’t agree that government has a role in deciding that for owners of private property, any more than I’d agree they could dictate whether anyone could smoke in my house.

There are plenty of causes the NRA is and should be leading when it comes to the Second Amendment. This is not one of them.

In Britain, Your Body Belongs To The State

The British government is in the process of turning it’s citizen’s bodies into harvesting sources:

LONDON — Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday threw his weight behind a move to allow hospitals to remove organs from dead patients without explicit consent.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr. Brown said such a move would save thousands of lives and that he hopes such a system can start this year.

The proposals would mean consent for organ donation after death would be automatically presumed, unless individuals had opted out of a national register or family members objected.

But patients’ groups said they are “totally opposed” to Mr. Brown’s plan, arguing it would take away patients’ rights over their own bodies.

To say the least.

Quote Of The Day: Explaining What’s Wrong Edition

From Mark @ Publius Endures:

People don’t have to be libertarian to be persuaded by libertarian policy arguments- but they do have to have at least a positive or neutral impression of the people making those arguments in the first place. The more that Ron Paul remains the face of libertarianism, the more negative the view of libertarians will become, and the less impact libertarians can have on a national, state, or local scale.

Any further evidence you need in that regard can be found in the jeers and laughter that Ron Paul received from the audience during last week’s debate in South Carolina.

A Good Point in the Ron Paul Kerfluffle

This point at Classically Liberal is really quite a good one.

Paul’s final defense is to ask us to believe that he doesn’t pay attention to his own affairs or what is done in his name. He doesn’t read the publications he sends out. In fact, he doesn’t even write his own material. He doesn’t investigate it when problems are brought to his attention. In other words his defense is that he isn’t a bigot but that he is totally inept in such matters. And he wants us to put him the White House — well we had enough of that kind of presidency already.

That’s exactly right. Either Paul knows who wrote these things and won’t speak out against someone who is clearly doing his campaign and libertarianism a massive disservice. Or he doesn’t know.

In one case he is lying and using “I can’t recall” as a defense. That reminds me strongly of Bill and Hillary. I said, then, that I couldn’t support either of them because of that, it would be hypocritical of me to do differently with Paul.

In the other case he is incompetent and inept in managing his staff. That reminds me strongly of George W. and Rumsfeld. I said many times that I couldn’t support that either. Again, hypocrisy.

So, no matter which of the two alternatives it is, Paul is just one more politician. Either a liar or an incompetent.

All you “libertarians” screaming about those of us who don’t support Paul, take that into consideration. He is behaving just like all the other statist politicians that you despise in order to gain the presidency. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ……..

Update: I won’t answer anyone that “debates” using ad hominem techniques. You are trying to discredit the message by attacking the messenger. Anyone who wishes to give me an alternative that is not one of those two, in a rational fashion, I will be happy to discuss it with you.

Update 2: I am not saying, in any way, shape or form that I think Paul is a racist. I am not implying it in any way, shape or form. Anyone who says anything to the contrary in the comments is either making a personal attack or doesn’t read for comprehension. In either case, I won’t respond per update 1.

Update 3: To clarify a bit, I personally think that what we have is a mix of the points that Doug makes here, incompetence in managing people and publications he was responsible for, and refusing to “throw someone under the bus” (which means that Paul is not telling the entire truth about something fairly despicable that he has knowledge of). As Doug and Mark have pointed out, Paul is damaging the message he is attempting to spread. He can either clean house (which we know he won’t do) or he can withdraw. Either of those options would help to prevent damaging his message about individual liberty. The path he is on will not.

Update 4: So, I really have to thank all of you who came by to comment, even the folks who weren’t really intelligible. It would appear that I have had the single best post for number of comments in the history of The Liberty Papers. I think that 174 (and still going strong) comments on a Ron Paul post definitely qualifies for a drink in UC’s little game!

California Slightly Backs Down On Thermostat Issue

Last week, I posted about California’s proposed Big Brother Thermostat proposal, where they were planning to mandate that all new thermostats allowed the state utility companies to shut off your A/C if it was an “emergency”. They’ve backed down on this one, but only slightly:

As initially proposed, these programmable thermostats would have deferred in emergencies to a radio signal from utilities, wresting control from customers.

After public protests, Chandler said the commission staff has suggested letting customers choose whether to accept the emergency control.

“The consumer or customer can override the emergency control,” with the change, Chandler said.

However, the thermostat will still include a radio control component that utilities could use with consumers’ consent. That component will be a mandatory part of the thermostat, which can’t be removed by the consumer.

Critics say they fear that requiring new homes to include a radio-controlled thermostat will make it easier to enforce mandatory controls later.

Fundamentally, nothing has changed. They still have decided to take control of your thermostat, and I think the critics’ point is quite valid. This isn’t the end of the road. When major power grabs don’t work, you take minor power grabs. The destination doesn’t change, only the length of the step.

What I said last week doesn’t change. If you get stuck with one of these thermostats, disable it. And even though they’ve softened their position, you should still contact your representative. We all know that this is but one step on a defined path for the regulators, and it is still important to let them know you’re not fooled.

DoJ and DC Gun Ban

The Department of Justice has filed an amicus brief on behalf the District of Columbia. Yes, you read that right. The Bush Administration is supporting DC in the upcoming case on that will have a major impact on gun owner’s rights.

Here is the analysis from David Hardy:

As I read this, the (Bush) Dept of Justice is asking that the Court hold it to be an individual right, but not strike the DC gun law, instead sending it back down to the trial court to take evidence on everything from how much the District needs the law to whether people can defend themselves without pistols and just what the DC trigger lock law means. THEN maybe it can begin another four year trek to the Supremes. That is, the DoJ REJECTS the DC Circuit position that an absolute, flat, ban on handguns violates the Second Amendment, and contends that it might just be justified, it all depends on the evidence.

There was a saying during my years in DC that the GOP operated on two principles: screw your friends and appease your enemies. Yup.

The DoJ brief is here. You can view other case filings here. You can read more about the Heller case here.

This is bad news. The lower court decision to overturn the ban was very well written and address the heart of the issue head on:

To summarize, we conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from abroad). In addition, the right to keep and bear arms had the important and salutary civic purpose of helping to preserve the citizen militia. The civic purpose was also a political expedient for the Federalists in the First Congress as it served, in part, to placate their Antifederalist opponents. The individual right facilitated militia service by ensuring that citizens would not be barred from keeping the arms they would need when called forth for militia duty. Despite the importance of the Second Amendment’s civic purpose, however, the activities it protects are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual’s enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia.

I don’t see what part of the right of people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed is so damned hard to understand.

Federal Driver’s Licenses: The Government’s New Plan To Screw Up Your Life

The brainiacs who’ve made air travel almost as fun as a 10-hour Coca-Cola enema have unveiled their new master plan for creating an efficient security system…federally mandated drivers licenses for everybody under the age of 50, which all states will be forced to comply with by 2011, whether they’re capable or doing so or not, if the Department of Homeland Security gets its way.  The rationalization for this plan, of course, is the same as that for any authoritarian program…a centrally mandated, controlled, and issued driver’s license will make it more difficult for con artists, drug traffickers, illegal immigrants, or terrorists to gain access to identification that could compromise our security. 

What goes unsaid, of course, is that such a program will inevitably make it more difficult for everyone else to get a driver’s license as well.  Do you like the two-hour wait at your state DMV every time you have to renew your driver’s license?  You can bet it’s going to be longer once every application has to run through a federal database that’s responsible for processing 50 times as many applications which will need to be cross-checked against watchlists of known terrorists, criminals, or illegal aliens.  Considering how flawlessly this approach has worked for the FAA with their no-fly lists, I’m finding it a little hard to believe that the process will run more efficiently or effectively than it does now, or that you’ll be getting your new driver’s license back on the same day that you’ve applied for it (as you can now).  Especially since the systems and processes the feds use to cross-reference are notoriously buggy.

Of course now if you go to the DMV and the computers are down, the inconveniences are relatively minimal.  You may have to come back the next day and endure another two hour wait, and you have to be a bit more careful about any traffic violations lest you get busted for driving on an expired license but you’ll generally be able to go about your life relatively freely.  Under the feds’ new program, however, if you aren’t able to procure your license for reasons beyond your control, or if you’re actually denied a license you won’t be able to enter a federal building, board an airplane, open a bank account, buy a gun, vote, verify your identity when using a credit or debit card, or do anything else that’s significantly affiliated with the federal government.  Basically, the Real ID program will effectively strip anyone who doesn’t have a federally-issued ID card of their citizenship or ability to even function in everyday society.

Perhaps the people who oppose Real ID are being unfair and overly paranoid, but considering that the Bush’s new Czar of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, issues absolute gibberish like this…

“We worked very closely with the states in terms of developing a plan that I think will be inexpensive, reasonable to implement and produce the results,” he said. “This is a win-win. As long as people use driver’s licenses to identify themselves for whatever reason there’s no reason for those licenses to be easily counterfeited or tampered with.”

…to explain his position, somehow I don’t think that their fears are that insane, especially since the creation of an identification card that cannot be forged is about as likely as the ability to corporeally exist without occupying space.  And spending the better part of ten years watching my own little section of the federal government (the U.S. Army) screw up even the most basic of background checks has led me to believe that the feds are generally incapable of handling and should rarely, if ever, be entrusted with this sort of authority.

Update:  A commenter who expanded on this on his own site raised one very valid point that I think merits highlighting: 

It’s funny.  They keep calling it a “driver’s license,” but they never mention anything about driving.

Update 2:  Apparently 17 states have already objected to the Real ID plan. 

I Can’t Think Of A Catchy Title

I suppose the best way to describe myself would be to say that I have a problem with authority. I’ve always disliked when people told me what to do, even as a young child, and I’ve always preferred to find my own path through life and make my own decisions, even if it occasionally went against the conventional wisdom and sometimes worked to my short-term disadvantage. My dad said I inherited it from him, but that I’ve taken it to a whole new level. When I was young I wanted to be a journalist, until I got to college and realized that journalism was less about the search for objective truth than it was about writing the stories that best suited your employer’s interests, whether they were true or not (which didn’t sit well with me at all). So I drifted aimlessly through a couple of years of college as an indifferent (often drunk) student, unsure of what to do with myself until one of my fraternity brothers gave me a copy of “The Fountainhead” and I got hooked on the ideas that success and a refusal to conform to societal standards were not mutally exclusive, and that the greatest evil in the world was society and government’s failure to recognize or accept individuality and individual freedom as a strength, not a weakness. So I threw myself into studying politics and history, worked in a few political campaigns after college, had some success, and thought about doing a career in politics until I realized that most of the people I knew who had never had a career outside of politics had no comprehension of how the real world actually worked and tended to make a lot of bad, self-absorbed decisions that rarely helped the people they claimed to be representing.

That didn’t sit well with me either, so I decided to put any thoughts of going into politics on hold until I’d actually had a life and possibly a real career, and I spent the next couple of years drifting between a series of random yet educational jobs (debt collector, deliveryman, computer salesman, repo man, dairy worker) that taught me the value of hard work, personal responsibility and the financial benefits of dining at Taco John’s on Tuesday nights (2 tacos for a buck) when money got tight.

After awhile, however, the desire to see the world (and the need for a more consistent and slightly larger paycheck) convinced me to join the Army, where I spent ten years traveling around the world on the government dime working as an intelligence analyst. I generally enjoyed my time in the military, despite the aforementioned problem with authority (which wasn’t as much of an issue in the military as many people might think it would be), and I got to see that the decisions our political leaders make were sometimes frivolous, often ill-informed, and always had unforeseen repercussions down the road…especially on the soldiers tasked with implementing those decisions. I was fortunate enough to spend most of my 10 years in the military doing jobs I enjoyed, traveling to countries that I always wanted to see (Scotland is the greatest place in the world to hang out, Afghanistan is very underrated) and working with people I liked and respected, until I finally decided that at 35 it was time to move into a job where I didn’t have the threat of relocation lying over my head every two or three years, where I didn’t have to worry about my friends being blown up, and where I didn’t have to work in any capacity for George W. Bush.

I work now for a financial company in Kansas where I’m responsible for overseeing, pricing and maintaining farms, commercial and residential properties, mineral assets, insurance policies, annuities, etc. In my spare time I like to read books on economics, history, and politics (I’m preparing to tackle Murray Rothbard’s “Man, Economy & State” and Von Mises’ “Human Action”…should take me about a year at the rate I’m currently finishing books), watch movies, and destroy posers on “Halo 3″ (where I’m signed in under “UCrawford” for anyone interested in taking a shot at me some time). I used to play rugby until age, inconsistent conditioning, and a string of gradually worsening injuries finally convinced me to quit. I’m a rabid fan of the Kansas Jayhawks in general and their basketball and football programs in particular and I’m also a devoted fan of the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals. I’m also fond of going online and debating/picking fights with people on the merits of the philosophy of individual freedom…sometimes to the point of being an asshole (but hopefully a reasonably well-informed asshole). I’ve been a big fan of The Liberty Papers ever since finding it online, I respect the body of work they’ve put out, and I’m honored that Brad Warbiany invited me to join his jolly band of freedom fighters. So cheers, Brad, and to everyone else I look forward to reaching consensus or locking horns with you in the near future.

Ron Paul & The Newsletters: 1996 vs. 2008

When the story about the racist content of some of the newsletters published under his name first became public this week, Ron Paul’s campaign issued this statement:

“The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.

(…)

“When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publically taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”

There are problems with that defense, but it appears that the real issue is even deeper.
Matt Welch, the editor of Reason, has gone back to see what Paul said about the newsletters back in 1996, when they became an issue in his effort to return to the United States Congress, and the news isn’t good. The Paul campaign was singing a very different tune back then, and there wasn’t even the suggestion that Paul wasn’t the one responsible for the content of the newsletters.

Consider this from the Houston Chronicle dated May 23, 1996:

Paul, a Republican obstetrician from Surfside, said Wednesday he opposes racism and that his written commentaries about blacks came in the context of “current events and statistical reports of the time.”

[…]

Paul also wrote that although “we are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational.

Black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers.”

A campaign spokesman for Paul said statements about the fear of black males mirror pronouncements by black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has decried the spread of urban crime.

Paul continues to write the newsletter for an undisclosed number of subscribers, the spokesman said.

Or this from the Dallas Morning News dated May 22, 1996:

Dr. Ron Paul, a Republican congressional candidate from Texas, wrote in his political newsletter in 1992 that 95 percent of the black men in Washington, D.C., are “semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

He also wrote that black teenagers can be “unbelievably fleet of foot.” […]

Dr. Paul, who is running in Texas’ 14th Congressional District, defended his writings in an interview Tuesday. He said they were being taken out of context.

“It’s typical political demagoguery,” he said. “If people are interested in my character … come and talk to my neighbors.” […]

According to a Dallas Morning News review of documents circulating among Texas Democrats, Dr. Paul wrote in a 1992 issue of the Ron Paul Political Report: “If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet of foot they can be.”

Dr. Paul, who served in Congress in the late 1970s and early 1980s, said Tuesday that he has produced the newsletter since 1985 and distributes it to an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 subscribers. A phone call to the newsletter’s toll-free number was answered by his campaign staff. […]

Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation. […]

“If someone challenges your character and takes the interpretation of the NAACP as proof of a man’s character, what kind of a world do you live in?” Dr. Paul asked.

In the interview, he did not deny he made the statement about the swiftness of black men.

“If you try to catch someone that has stolen a purse from you, there is no chance to catch them,” Dr. Paul said.

Draw your own conclusions, I suppose. But there seems to be some inconsistency between what was said in 1996 and what is being said today.

H/T: Mark @ Publius Endures

Hugo Chavez Borrows From Hitler’s Playbook

It seems that Jewish people in Venezuela are becoming just a little concerned about their President’s ties to people like the President of Iran:

Venezuelan Jews, long uneasy with the Chávez government’s alliances with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries that espouse anti-Israel views, are concerned that the government is sponsoring anti-Semitism in this hemisphere, a prominent journalist said Tuesday.

”The situation we have now in Venezuela is that for the first time in modern history we have government-sponsored anti-Semitism in a Western country,” said Sammy Eppel. “That is why this is very dangerous, not just for the Jewish community in Venezuela but for the Jewish community as a whole.”

Among the examples offered by Eppel:

Venezuelan government intelligence services twice have raided the country’s most important Jewish center in a vague, ultimately unsuccessful search for weapons. Publications of the government’s cultural ministry run articles entitled ”the Jewish Question,” along with a Jewish star superimposed over a swastika.

Given how buddy-buddy Chavez has become with the Iranians, it’s not surprising that he would be adopting that regimes anti-Semitism, because the one thing a dictator always needs is an internal enemy to act as a scapegoat. Chavez, it seems, has found his.

H/T: QandO

Ron Paul And The Future Of Libertarianism

I had a feeling that I’d be writing a post like this at some point, I just didn’t think it would be this soon or under these circumstances.

Now that we know the results in Iowa and, more importantly,  New Hampshire and now that the newsletter story has hit the mainstream media in a big way, the time has come to think about where libertarianism goes after Ron Paul, and whether the campaign itself has been a net plus or a net minus. I’ve got my own thoughts on the issue which I’ll probably post about next week, but for now I think its interesting to look at what others are saying.

First, Cato’s David Boaz has this up today:

Ron Paul isn’t running for president. He’s not going to be president, he’s not going to be the Republican nominee for president, and he never hoped to be. He got into the race to advance ideas—the ideas of peace, constitutional government, and freedom. Succeeding beyond his wildest dreams, he became the most visible so-called “libertarian” in America. And now he and his associates have slimed the noble cause of liberty and limited government.

Mutterings about the past mistakes of the New Republic or the ideological agenda of author James Kirchick are beside the point. Maybe Bob Woodward didn’t like Quakers; the corruption he uncovered in the Nixon administration was still a fact, and that’s all that mattered. Ron Paul’s most visible defenders have denounced Kirchick as a “pimply-faced youth”—so much for their previous enthusiasm about all the young people sleeping on floors for the Paul campaign—and a neoconservative. But they have not denied the facts he reported. Those words appeared in newsletters under his name. And, notably, they have not dared to defend or even quote the actual words that Kirchick reported. Even those who vociferously defend Ron Paul and viciously denounce Kirchick, perhaps even those who wrote the words originally, are apparently unwilling to quote and defend the actual words that appeared over Ron Paul’s signature.

Those words are not libertarian words. Maybe they reflect “paleoconservative” ideas, though they’re not the language of Burke or even Kirk. But libertarianism is a philosophy of individualism, tolerance, and liberty. As Ayn Rand wrote, “Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism.” Making sweeping, bigoted claims about all blacks, all homosexuals, or any other group is indeed a crudely primitive collectivism.

Libertarians should make it clear that the people who wrote those things are not our comrades, not part of our movement, not part of the tradition of John Locke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and Robert Nozick. Shame on them.

Boaz does have a point here.

The author of those articles is by no means a libertarian, and if it does turn out that Lew Rockwell and his associates were the ones behind it, then I can’t say I’m surprised. I remember when Rockwell and Murray Rothbard first started advancing this thing called paleoconservatism — Rockwell wrote a long article on the subject in Liberty —  I was frankly stunned. It seemed like something that would come out of the mouth of a member of the John Birch Society, not the supposed intellectual heirs of Ludwig von Mises.

At least when it comes to issues like immigration and trade and the association with conspiracy theories — the North American Union theory for one, the 9/11 Truthers for another — one could make the argument that the Paul campaign was more paleoconservative than libertarian. Which is why it’s not surprising that Rockwell and his fellow bloggers are among Paul’s most vociferous supporters.

And, George Mason Law Professor Ilya Somin says this:

Ron Paul isn’t all bad. However, it is increasingly clear that association with his presidential candidacy does more harm than good to the cause of libertarianism, a point that I tried to make in my very first post about him. Not only is his candidacy turning out to be a flop politically, as I predicted. It also creates the risk of tarring libertarianism by associating it in the public mind with bigotry, conspiracy-mongering, and xenophobic hostility to free trade and immigration (though the latter, unfortunately, is actually quite popular even outside far-right circles).

And that’s why I kept harping on the issue of the less than savory supporters last year — libertarian ideas are foreign enough to most Americans, even the slightest suggestion that they are associated with racists and conspiracy theory kooks is going to make it that much harder to convince people that there is a solution to the problems our country faces, and that that solution is freedom.

The Ron Paul Newsletters: Naming Names

The Economist states openly what others have been saying privately since Tuesday:

While his statements sometimes leave the impression that Mr Paul simply licensed his name to people with whom he had little contact, there is much evidence to the contrary. The newsletters that appeared under his name were published by M&M Graphics and Advertising, a company run by Mr Paul’s longtime congressional campaign manager Mark Elam—which Mr Elam himself confirms. And according to numerous veterans of the libertarian movement, it was an open secret during the late-80s and early-90s who was ghostwriting the portions of Mr Paul’s newsletters not penned by the congressman himself: Lew Rockwell, founder of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and members of his staff, among them Jeffrey Tucker, now editorial vice president of the Institute.

Mr Rockwell denied authorship to Jamie Kirchick, the reporter whose New Republic article published earlier this week reignited controversy over the newsletters. But both Mr Rockwell (who attacked the New Republic article on his site) and Mr Tucker refused to discuss the matter with Democracy in America. (“Look at Mises.org,” Mr Tucker told me, “I’m willing to take any responsibility for anything up there, OK?”) According to Wirkman Virkkala, formerly the managing editor of the libertarian monthly Liberty, the racist and survivalist elements that appeared in the newsletter were part of a deliberate “paleolibertarian” strategy, “a last gasp effort to try class hatred after the miserable showing of Ron Paul’s 1988 presidential effort.” It is impossible now to prove individual authorship of any particular item in the newsletter, but it is equally impossible to believe that Mr Rockwell did not know of and approve what was going into the newsletter.

Rockwell, along with Murray Rothbard, went off on the “Paleolibertarian” journey in the early 1990s — to the point where they openly backed Pat Buchanan in 1996 and, quite honestly, adopted a good deal of Buchanan’s rhetoric. Obviously, Rockwell and others were using Ron Paul’s newsletters for their own agenda.

Why does this matter ? Well, here’s one reason:

This matters because, while Mr Paul may disavow the sentiments that were expressed under his name over the years, he has scarcely disavowed Mr Rockwell, who remains a friend and adviser. Mr Rockwell is one of the congressman’s most vigorous online boosters, accompanied him to an appearance on The Tonight Show, and often publishes Mr Paul’s writings on his Web site. Mr Paul now says the identity of his ghostwriter is of no importance. But if the person responsible for spreading venom under his name for many years remains a close associate, it suggests that Mr Paul is at least prepared to countenance pandering to racists, however respectable his own views. The candidate owes his supporters a far more complete explanation than he has thus far provided.

Pretty much the same thing I said yesterday.

Update: Over at Reason, Matt Welch has an interesting article contrasting what the Paul campaign is saying about the newsletters today and what was said back in 1996, when they became an issue in his Congressional campaign.

Double-Speak Definition Of The Day

Today’s double-speak is: “Al-Qaeda’s Number 3 Man”

A hierarchical description applied to a member of an organization that has no clearly defined hierarchy beyond the top two members.  This term is popular with the current administration whenever they kill a probable terrorist whose body the military was able to identify in a timely fashion and who had enough of a profile with the media so that his death was notable (i.e. “The death of (insert deceased’s name) represents a turning point in our efforts here in (insert country name) because he was al-Qaeda’s number 3 man.”) despite the tendency of said individual’s death to have little to no meaningful impact on our efforts in the Global War On Terror.  Also used to diffuse criticism of human rights violations committed by the U.S. government against detainees by attaching a superficial sense of importance or urgency to the information said interrogation suspect possesses (e.g. Sheikh Khalid Mohammad), despite a continuing inability of the government to demonstrate that said human rights abuses provided any tangible benefits in regards to the Global War on Terror beyond getting people off the President’s back.

I Can’t Think Of A Catchy Title

I suppose the best way to describe myself would be to say that I have a problem with authority. I’ve always disliked when people told me what to do, even as a young child, and I’ve always preferred to find my own path through life and make my own decisions, even if it occasionally went against the conventional wisdom and sometimes worked to my short-term disadvantage. My dad said I inherited it from him, but that I’ve taken it to a whole new level. When I was young I wanted to be a journalist, until I got to college and realized that journalism was less about the search for objective truth than it was about writing the stories that best suited your employer’s interests, whether they were true or not (which didn’t sit well with me at all). So I drifted aimlessly through a couple of years of college as an indifferent (often drunk) student, unsure of what to do with myself until one of my fraternity brothers gave me a copy of “The Fountainhead” and I got hooked on the ideas that success and a refusal to conform to societal standards were not mutally exclusive, and that the greatest evil in the world was society and government’s failure to recognize or accept individuality and individual freedom as a strength, not a weakness. So I threw myself into studying politics and history, worked in a few political campaigns after college, had some success, and thought about doing a career in politics until I realized that most of the people I knew who had never had a career outside of politics had no comprehension of how the real world actually worked and tended to make a lot of bad, self-absorbed decisions that rarely helped the people they claimed to be representing.

That didn’t sit well with me either, so I decided to put any thoughts of going into politics on hold until I’d actually had a life and possibly a real career, and I spent the next couple of years drifting between a series of random yet educational jobs (debt collector, deliveryman, computer salesman, repo man, dairy worker) that taught me the value of hard work, personal responsibility and the financial benefits of dining at Taco John’s on Tuesday nights (2 tacos for a buck) when money got tight.

After awhile, however, the desire to see the world (and the need for a more consistent and slightly larger paycheck) convinced me to join the Army, where I spent ten years traveling around the world on the government dime working as an intelligence analyst. I generally enjoyed my time in the military, despite the aforementioned problem with authority (which wasn’t as much of an issue in the military as many people might think it would be), and I got to see that the decisions our political leaders make were sometimes frivolous, often ill-informed, and always had unforeseen repercussions down the road…especially on the soldiers tasked with implementing those decisions. I was fortunate enough to spend most of my 10 years in the military doing jobs I enjoyed, traveling to countries that I always wanted to see (Scotland is the greatest place in the world to hang out, Afghanistan is very underrated) and working with people I liked and respected, until I finally decided that at 35 it was time to move into a job where I didn’t have the threat of relocation lying over my head every two or three years, where I didn’t have to worry about my friends being blown up, and where I didn’t have to work in any capacity for George W. Bush.

I work now for a financial company in Kansas where I’m responsible for overseeing, pricing and maintaining farms, commercial and residential properties, mineral assets, insurance policies, annuities, etc. In my spare time I like to read books on economics, history, and politics (I’m preparing to tackle Murray Rothbard’s “Man, Economy & State” and Von Mises’ “Human Action”…should take me about a year at the rate I’m currently finishing books), watch movies, and destroy posers on “Halo 3″ (where I’m signed in under “UCrawford” for anyone interested in taking a shot at me some time). I used to play rugby until age, inconsistent conditioning, and a string of gradually worsening injuries finally convinced me to quit. I’m a rabid fan of the Kansas Jayhawks in general and their basketball and football programs in particular and I’m also a devoted fan of the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals. I’m also fond of going online and debating/picking fights with people on the merits of the philosophy of individual freedom…sometimes to the point of being an asshole (but hopefully a reasonably well-informed asshole). I’ve been a big fan of The Liberty Papers ever since finding it online, I respect the body of work they’ve put out, and I’m honored that Brad Warbiany invited me to join his jolly band of freedom fighters. So cheers, Brad, and to everyone else I look forward to reaching consensus or locking horns with you in the near future.

Ron Paul Talks To Wolf Blitzer About The Newsletter Story

Ron Paul appeared on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer today to talk about the controversy that has erupted over the last several days regarding newsletters published under his name in the late 1980s and early 1990s which contained, to put it mildly, some incredibly racist statements.

Here’s Part One:

And Here’s Part Two:

I was able to watch this live and, quite honestly, Paul didn’t seem like himself to me. It was a combination of, for lack of a better word, anger and being caught off guard. To his credit, he did repudiate the filth that was published under his name, but his continuing refusal to name the person who did write it, or at least the editor, is just confusing.

Also, I don’t think he helped himself with anyone but the true believers when he kept mentioning “the blacks” every few minutes, the way he kept diverting Blitzer’s questions with talk about the War on Drugs and Iraq, and his insistence toward the end of the interview that this was part of some conspiracy against him.

Watch for yourself and make up your own mind, but there are still unanswered questions here and he owes it to his supporters to answer them.

The Border Fence And Property Rights

It seems that the push for a fence on the southern border of the United States is about to become a really big theft:

The government is readying 102 court cases against landowners in Arizona, California and Texas for blocking efforts to select sites for a fence along the Mexican border, a Department of Homeland Security official said yesterday.

With the lawsuits expected soon, the legal action would mark an escalation in the clash between the government and the property owners. The Bush administration wants to build 370 miles of fencing and 300 miles of vehicle barriers by the end of the year.

A number of property owners have granted the government access to their land, but others have refused. The agency sent letters to 135 of them last month, warning that they had 30 days to comply or face court action.

(…)

Some opponents of the fence say the government is violating the rights of indigenous landowners, descendants of American Indians and others who claim ancestral rights to the land or whose families were awarded property through Spanish land grants.

One holdout, Eloisa Garcia Tamez, 72, owns three acres in El Calaboz, Tex., about 12 miles west of Brownsville, a city at the state’s southernmost tip. Tamez said her property was part of a Spanish land grant and her grandfather was Lipan Apache, a tribe not officially recognized by Washington but known to have existed in Texas and Mexico.

“I’m waiting for whatever they’ve got coming and I’m not going to sign. I’m not,” Tamez said.

I’m not a border fence fan to begin with — to me it seems like more of a gimmick than a solution. But if the only way to build it is to violate people’s property rights, then I say scrap the whole thing.

Does This Mean That LaDainian Tomlinson Isn’t Qualified To Plug HD TVs?

The people who’ve taken a legislative axe to archaic concepts like free speech and made it almost impossible to find a cold medication that works now have a new cause celebre…cracking down on celebrity endorsements for consumer products.

The ads in question this time are for the top-selling Pfizer product, Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering drug that from all accounts I’ve been able to find works effectively.  The target for Congress’ ire is the pitchman that Pfizer selected to plug their product, Dr. Robert Jarvik (best known for inventing the artificial heart).  What is the hangup about Dr. Jarvik’s presence in the ad?  Apparently, even though he possesses a doctorate in medicine from the University of Utah, he’s not licensed to practice medicine (since he didn’t do a residency or internship) therefore Congressman John Dingell (chairman of Energy & Commerce) doesn’t consider him qualified to dispense medical advice or give recommendations about what drugs people should consider for health problems.

Leaving aside the obvious question of why an individal who’s apparently qualified enough to complete medical school and design a mechanical heart worth sticking in a person’s chest isn’t a more acceptable candidate to plug a medical product than some creepily cheery middle-aged actors (who likely never set foot in medical school) pretending to have trouble taking a whiz or raising their flag to full-staff when it’s time for a bit of the old in and out…what business is it of Congress who private industry uses to sell their products so long as the products 1) aren’t unreasonably harmful to the consumers, 2) do pretty much what the ads say they do, and 3) use ads that clearly recommend consultation with an expert before purchasing or using said product? 

Does Congress honestly believe that the overwhelming majority of people are stupid enough to base their lives around what celebrities tell them to do?  Or is this yet another cynical example of a proponent of socialized medicine using a backdoor tactic to undermine the private drug industry under the claim that they’re just “looking out for the consumer”?  Probably a little of both, in my own opinion, but consumers, U.S. healthcare and private industry in general would certainly be better served if our elected officials refrained from dictating to businessmen how they should run their ad campaigns for their products and stopped assuming that people are incapable of making informed decisions about what chemicals to put in their bodies or what products to spend their money on without a “qualified” pitchman telling them.

H/T:  Slate

I Can’t Think Of A Catchy Title

I suppose the best way to describe myself would be to say that I have a problem with authority. I’ve always disliked when people told me what to do, even as a young child, and I’ve always preferred to find my own path through life and make my own decisions, even if it occasionally went against the conventional wisdom and sometimes worked to my short-term disadvantage. My dad said I inherited it from him, but that I’ve taken it to a whole new level. When I was young I wanted to be a journalist, until I got to college and realized that journalism was less about the search for objective truth than it was about writing the stories that best suited your employer’s interests, whether they were true or not (which didn’t sit well with me at all). So I drifted aimlessly through a couple of years of college as an indifferent (often drunk) student, unsure of what to do with myself until one of my fraternity brothers gave me a copy of “The Fountainhead” and I got hooked on the ideas that success and a refusal to conform to societal standards were not mutally exclusive, and that the greatest evil in the world was society and government’s failure to recognize or accept individuality and individual freedom as a strength, not a weakness. So I threw myself into studying politics and history, worked in a few political campaigns after college, had some success, and thought about doing a career in politics until I realized that most of the people I knew who had never had a career outside of politics had no comprehension of how the real world actually worked and tended to make a lot of bad, self-absorbed decisions that rarely helped the people they claimed to be representing.

That didn’t sit well with me either, so I decided to put any thoughts of going into politics on hold until I’d actually had a life and possibly a real career, and I spent the next couple of years drifting between a series of random yet educational jobs (debt collector, deliveryman, computer salesman, repo man, dairy worker) that taught me the value of hard work, personal responsibility and the financial benefits of dining at Taco John’s on Tuesday nights (2 tacos for a buck) when money got tight.

After awhile, however, the desire to see the world (and the need for a more consistent and slightly larger paycheck) convinced me to join the Army, where I spent ten years traveling around the world on the government dime working as an intelligence analyst. I generally enjoyed my time in the military, despite the aforementioned problem with authority (which wasn’t as much of an issue in the military as many people might think it would be), and I got to see that the decisions our political leaders make were sometimes frivolous, often ill-informed, and always had unforeseen repercussions down the road…especially on the soldiers tasked with implementing those decisions. I was fortunate enough to spend most of my 10 years in the military doing jobs I enjoyed, traveling to countries that I always wanted to see (Scotland is the greatest place in the world to hang out, Afghanistan is very underrated) and working with people I liked and respected, until I finally decided that at 35 it was time to move into a job where I didn’t have the threat of relocation lying over my head every two or three years, where I didn’t have to worry about my friends being blown up, and where I didn’t have to work in any capacity for George W. Bush.

I work now for a financial company in Kansas where I’m responsible for overseeing, pricing and maintaining farms, commercial and residential properties, mineral assets, insurance policies, annuities, etc. In my spare time I like to read books on economics, history, and politics (I’m preparing to tackle Murray Rothbard’s “Man, Economy & State” and Von Mises’ “Human Action”…should take me about a year at the rate I’m currently finishing books), watch movies, and destroy posers on “Halo 3″ (where I’m signed in under “UCrawford” for anyone interested in taking a shot at me some time). I used to play rugby until age, inconsistent conditioning, and a string of gradually worsening injuries finally convinced me to quit. I’m a rabid fan of the Kansas Jayhawks in general and their basketball and football programs in particular and I’m also a devoted fan of the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals. I’m also fond of going online and debating/picking fights with people on the merits of the philosophy of individual freedom…sometimes to the point of being an asshole (but hopefully a reasonably well-informed asshole). I’ve been a big fan of The Liberty Papers ever since finding it online, I respect the body of work they’ve put out, and I’m honored that Brad Warbiany invited me to join his jolly band of freedom fighters. So cheers, Brad, and to everyone else I look forward to reaching consensus or locking horns with you in the near future.

1 2 3 4 5