Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”     James Madison

June 10, 2008

Three Words

by Chris

Well, three words, and three thoughts associated with them…

I’ve not spoken much about politics this year, specifically because when I WAS talking about it I found that it was absolutely impossible to have any kind of civil discourse with the Paulistinans, and Obamaddeans; and that the Mitt and Huck types were all heavily into self delusion.

Let’s not even talk about Bob Barr (libertarian he certainly is not… publicity stunt, he certainly is), or Dennis Kucinich (really… my life would be so much better if I never heard his name again).

What was the point? The aggravation wasn’t worth it.

Now that the parties have settled on their respective choices (finally), I’m going to say what will hopefully be my last GENERAL words on the subject (obviously I may end up commenting more as particular issues come up).

I’m going to be voting for John McCain (or more particularly not for McCain, but against the Democratic Party) and here’s why (three words, three thoughts):

* Barack
* Hussein
* Obama

* Supreme Court Justices
* Executive appointments
* Cooperative congress

So, let me just close with the sentiments of my good friend Kim DuToit:

McCain2008
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73 Comments

  1. Chris,

    a) Obama’s not a Muslim. He’s never been a Muslim and there’s really nothing wrong with Muslims in general to begin with so I don’t get this “Barack Hussein Obama” smear. It’s childish, it smacks of race-baiting, and it’s got nothing to do with anything.

    b) Supreme Court justices – speaking as a libertarian, why in the hell would I want the politician who sponsored the MCA of 2006 and the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act and who constantly bags on “greedy” CEOs to have power over the courts? My God, man, are you insane? I agree that Obama’s issues are wrong, particularly on socialized medicine, but he hasn’t got close to the anti-liberty track record of McCain.

    c) Executive appointments – again, who does McCain surround himself with who’s that great? He’s considering Huckabee as his VP and he always plays to the crowd. What should that tell you about the direction he sees future policy going?

    d) I’m less concerned with a cooperative Congress than I am with a president who’s bound and determined to keep us in a war for “100 years”, as he puts it, or until we go broke (which will be a lot sooner than that). Bill Clinton took office with a cooperative Congress, then the backlash from Clinton’s bad policies got the Congress changed in the 94 election. If Obama’s really an uber-liberal intent on crushing free trade and raising our taxes the Democrats’ days in Congress will be numbered. And frankly, I’d much rather have the Republicans in charge of Congress than the White House these days. I think the current GOP crop has pretty clearly demonstrated they’re unfit to be trusted with executive power, especially with the Democrats watchdogging them.

    A protest vote for Barr would be far less damaging to our freedom than a vote for McCain.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 10, 2008 @ 12:36 pm
  2. Supreme Court Justices

    I’ll cede your point here. Republican appointees are slightly better than Democrat appointees.

    Executive appointments

    From the party that gave us Mike Brown, Julie Myers, Alberto Gonzales, Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, and Bernard Kerik among other incompetent cronies…no thanks.

    Cooperative congress

    Which is unfortunately what you will see if McLame is elected. He’ll enact Obama’s entire platform within 24 hours of being sworn in in the name of “bipartisanship” with the help of the Democratic Congress.

    Comment by Kevin — June 10, 2008 @ 12:48 pm
  3. Crawford,

    A protest vote for Barr would be far less damaging to our freedom than a vote for McCain.

    No thanks, I’ll probably be staying home in November. If I thought I wasn’t alone, I would sell refreshments at the polling booth.

    Comment by Kevin — June 10, 2008 @ 12:50 pm
  4. Crawford,

    I agree that Obama’s issues are wrong, particularly on socialized medicine, but he hasn’t got close to the anti-liberty track record of McCain.

    Because he hasn’t been in the Senate for that long :)

    Comment by Kevin — June 10, 2008 @ 12:51 pm
  5. Chris,

    I’ve got to respectfully disagree for much the same reason as Kevin and UCrawford.

    There’s nothing in John McCain’s record to indicate that he’d be any better on any of the three issues you mention than Barack Obama. More importantly, there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t continue the abusive expansion of Executive Department authority that began with the Bush/Cheney Administration.

    From my perspective, it’s a pox on both their houses.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — June 10, 2008 @ 12:52 pm
  6. Ok lets get these one by one:

    A. It’s his name, and you’ve raised an idiotic strawman*. In fact, I’m offended overall every time someone objects to the use of his middle name. It is his name, not some smear against muslims.

    B. Because Obama would appoint another Hugo Black or worse; guaranteed. His tests would certainly be purely ideological.

    C. If you thought 8 years of Clinton appointees were bad, imagine the Obama appointees? Especially with the aforementioned co-operative congress.

    D. Another strawman, joy; though I agree, I’d rather have the republicans in the house, the democrats in the senate; and a republican in the big chair. That way they can all do the least damage.

    Oh, and protest votes are pointless and stupid; roughly the equivalent of holding your breath til you turn blue.

    *Please note, I’m not calling you an idiot personally, just that the whole “saying his middle name is an anti-muslim scare tactic” meme is idiotic and offense to me. It reeks of speech codes.

    Comment by Chris — June 10, 2008 @ 12:52 pm
  7. Kevin,

    Because he hasn’t been in the Senate for that long

    When contrasting politicians I usually give more weight to what either candidate has done than what they might do. Those two bills I mentioned are some of the most abominable pieces of legislation to come out of Congress in the last 30 years. And McCain sponsored both of them. Granted, Obama’s track record is a fairly short one, so his attraction for libertarians would be more that he’s an unknown quantity (which means they’re falling prey to wishful thinking, in my opinion). So there’s the concern that he might be a bad politician for us.

    With McCain, on the other hand, you know exactly what you’re going to get and it’s pretty much all bad. He is not in any way, shape or form the “least-worst” candidate in this election…so I don’t see a vote for him as anything other than living in a state of denial that the GOP in its current form is compatible with libertarianism. The Republicans are for big government, for preemptive eternal war, against civil liberties, and are showing increasing hostility to free trade. Why on earth would we want to reward them for that?

    Comment by UCrawford — June 10, 2008 @ 1:12 pm
  8. Crawford,

    So there’s the concern that he might be a bad politician for us.

    I’m naive, but I tend to take politicians at their word. Obama has promised to be a bad politician for us.

    With McCain, on the other hand, you know exactly what you’re going to get and it’s pretty much all bad. He is not in any way, shape or form the “least-worst” candidate in this election…so I don’t see a vote for him as anything other than living in a state of denial that the GOP in its current form is compatible with libertarianism. The Republicans are for big government, for preemptive eternal war, against civil liberties, and are showing increasing hostility to free trade. Why on earth would we want to reward them for that?

    I don’t disagree with a single word.

    Comment by Kevin — June 10, 2008 @ 1:23 pm
  9. Chris,

    a) Oh please…if that’s the case, then why do people who hate Obama consider his middle name worthy of mention? How many pundits do you hear call the other candidates by their full names? You think most of them would even care about the middle names of John Sidney McCain III or Robert Laurence Barr Jr.? Constantly emphasizing his middle name is about as blatant a play on anti-Muslim hysteria as you’re going to see.

    His tests would certainly be purely ideological

    b) You mean like staffing the Justice Department with incompetent attornies from Regents University so they could prosecute pornography? I didn’t hear McCain protesting much when Bush did that. Every president’s appointees are ideological. At least Obama wouldn’t be stupid enough to try and slip in a Harriet Myers.

    If you thought 8 years of Clinton appointees were bad, imagine the Obama appointees? Especially with the aforementioned co-operative congress

    c) Actually, with few exceptions I found Bush’s appointees to be far worse than Clinton’s. Rumsfeld was quite possibly the worst SECDEF in U.S. history…certainly tied with Robert McNamara if not exceeding him. Alberto Gonzalez was a thoroughly incompetent AG. Condoleeza Rice was a weak-willed failure as both NSA and Secretary of State. The best appointments he made were Colin Powell (who Bush apparently ignores) and Robert Gates (who apparently ignores Bush). So when you trot out the line about “imagine who Obama would appoint”, it doesn’t really scare me because I think the odds are pretty long that they’re going to be worse than the constant parade of losers, sycophants, and incompetents that Bush has favored.

    d) I’m not sure what you’re categorizing as the straw man in my response, but no arguments with your ideal division of power…assuming that it’s not a Republican of the Bush or McCain ilk sitting in the White House. National greatness conservatives who advocate unchecked executive power have no place in our presidency as far as I’m concerned.

    Oh, and protest votes are pointless and stupid; roughly the equivalent of holding your breath til you turn blue.

    If you’re saying they’re pointless because they don’t get the protest candidates elected, then you’re right. But they’re not pointless when it comes to demonstrating to the mainstream candidates that there are votes to be had by adopting different positions. That’s what the point of a protest is, to call attention to your specific issue…well, that and to screw over a candidate you hate for his ideological failings (e.g. Ralph Nader taking votes from Gore in 2000, Ross Perot taking votes from Bush in 1992 and Dole in 1996).

    And don’t worry…I didn’t take your comments personally. I’m also not calling you stupid either (because I know that’s not the case)…I just took exception to some of your positions on this one.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 10, 2008 @ 1:39 pm
  10. Kevin,

    I’m naive, but I tend to take politicians at their word. Obama has promised to be a bad politician for us.

    I also rate what a politician promises to do much lower than what a politician has done…mainly because primaries are about preaching to the choir and in Obama’s case his choir are a bunch of socialist idiots. For all the gripes about his views on free trade, Obama apparently took pains to let Canada know he had no intention of opting out of NAFTA if he was elected…despite campaign rhetoric that suggested otherwise.

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080228/turkey_Gates_080228/20080229

    The fact that his long-time economics advisor is a free market advocate who hails from the University of Chicago (before Obama had to distance himself from him for the primaries) indicates to me that he’s not as dogmatic as most of the socialists in the Democratic party. In fact, I think Obama is about the text-book definition of a least-worst candidate, at least as far as libertarians go. I still think Barr should be considered the best candidate in the race (going only off of issues and competence, not electability).

    Comment by UCrawford — June 10, 2008 @ 1:51 pm
  11. I often refer to people by all of their names for emphasis and/or effect:

    William Jefferson Clinton
    George W. Bush
    George Herbert Walker Bush
    Ronald Wilson Reagan
    Richard Millhouse Nixon
    Lyndon Baines Johnsons

    It is in fact an American conversational and rhetorical convention to do so. The fact that his middle name happens to be middle eastern has nothing to do with it.

    As to the fact that bigots emphasize his “foreign-ness” well, Hitler liked dogs, and so do I. That’s one of the oldest strawmen there is, and you know it. Simply, I don’t presume to allow the idiocy of others change the way I speak.

    As to the second point… hmmm John Sidney McCain, is somehow George Walker Bush… Oh wait, no, he isn’t. In fact, McCain hates the rest of the republican party, and the feeling is most assuredly mutual.

    As to the second to last point, I’m calling categorizing the “will put us in a 100 year long war” comment is a strawman as well.

    The fact is, we’re in it, and we’re going to be there as long as it takes to be done; democrat or republican; no matter what either will say. At least McCain was honest enough to say that, and recognize that yes, it could be a 100 year process, or a permanent one.

    All you ideological non interference purists are going to have to face the fact that there is no putting this genie back in the bottle. We’re going to be fighting in the middle east, basically forever (unless we manage to solve the problem somewhow) whether we want to be or not.

    Finally, protest votes are pointless, because they don’t effect elections beyond the local level. If the major candidates ever even NOTICED protest votes, fine, I’d say it might be a worthwhile gesture; but they don’t. They really just don’t care, because in reality, and at the best (worst?), the protest voters only make up a percentage or two worth of the people who would have voted for them anyway.

    Comment by Chris — June 10, 2008 @ 1:52 pm
  12. Oh and I’m sorry, but Bob Barr is in this for self aggrandizement, and nothing more.

    He’s as much a libertarian as Jessie Helms fer chrissakes. He fully and firmly believes in using the co-ercive power of the state to acomplish moral ends.

    As far as I’m concerned, at least McCain isn’t trying to pretend to be something he isn’t… or at least not more so than any other politician anyway.

    … and isn’t that a disgusting statement.

    Comment by Chris — June 10, 2008 @ 1:54 pm
  13. Chris,

    As to the second to last point, I’m calling categorizing the “will put us in a 100 year long war” comment is a strawman as well.

    Not a strawman…he actually said that, then defended it.

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/14/mccain.king/

    The fact is, we’re in it, and we’re going to be there as long as it takes to be done

    And what exactly is this goal that you think we’re trying to achieve over Iraq? It certainly didn’t have anything to do with 9/11.

    All you ideological non interference purists are going to have to face the fact that there is no putting this genie back in the bottle.

    I’m a pragmatist, not a purist. And foreign policy problems are like any other problem…once you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you should always do is stop digging.

    This, however, appears to be more the Bush/McCain mindset

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/60173?utm_source=onion_rss_daily

    We’re going to be fighting in the middle east, basically forever (unless we manage to solve the problem somewhow) whether we want to be or not.

    We won’t, actually. These wars (Iraq and Afghanistan), like all other wars, will eventually end. It’s just a matter of who will find the conditions more favorable when they do, us or the “terrorists”. The longer we stay, the less it benefits us. The questions to ask ourselves in the meantime are, a) how badly do we want to wreck our economy before it forces us to accept the reality that no country can afford to wage an eternal war and b) how many peoples’ lives are we willing to piss away in the process? Personally, I hit my limit about three years ago when I realized that the only reason we’re in Iraq is so our troops can get shot trying to fight someone else’s civil war (which we helped kick off)…and so the President doesn’t have to lose face. I’ve no interest in voting for someone else to continue that.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 10, 2008 @ 2:23 pm
  14. Chris,

    Oh and I’m sorry, but Bob Barr is in this for self aggrandizement, and nothing more.

    Leaving aside the fact that you’ve named 99% of all politicians…I don’t think that any sane person chooses to run for self-aggrandizement on the Libertarian Party ticket. In 2006 the LP ran a guy with blue skin from drinking quack remedies in a Senate race. The 2004 presidential candidate advocated chaining prisoners to their beds until their muscles atrophy (like in “Seven”). In 2008 Barr’s opponent spoke out in favor of child porn and sided with the “truthers”. The party’s wettest of wet dreams is to someday pull 10% of the vote. If he was in it to get favorable attention, he’d have stayed a Republican…he’d actually be considered electable there.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 10, 2008 @ 2:29 pm
  15. When it comes to the Supreme Court, I don’t really trust him any more than I trusted Bush. Bush gave us Roberts and Alito, who haven’t met an executive power that they didn’t like. After all, they found with the government in the Bong Hits 4 Jesus (Morse v. Frederick) case. I’m sure, then, that McCain might enjoy hearing their thoughts on Campaign Finance Reform.

    Sure, Obama isn’t going to nominate Janice Rogers Brown, but it’s not like I expect McCain to either…

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — June 10, 2008 @ 2:38 pm
  16. Chris,

    I often refer to people by all of their names for emphasis and/or effect

    Which you didn’t do with Bob Barr, John McCain, or Dennis Kucinich, in this very same post.

    I can see if you’re playing off the 3-words, 3-ideas thing, since you also titled your post “Three Words”. But you’re smart enough to know how it would be interpreted by your audience, and it’s turned into a distraction that detracts from your serious arguments.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — June 10, 2008 @ 2:51 pm
  17. Only if you accept the “mentioning his name is racist” meme; which I do not.

    As to the rest, I was putting emphasis on Obama, and the fact that I was voting AGAINST him, not FOR McCain; as should have been rather blatantly obvious.

    Comment by Chris — June 10, 2008 @ 2:53 pm
  18. Chris,

    Actually, I referred to it as a “race-baiting” tactic. There’s a difference between that and racism.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 10, 2008 @ 2:55 pm
  19. lol.

    Comment by Nitroadict — June 10, 2008 @ 3:08 pm
  20. Ahhh, excuse me for being imprecise UC… I reject that meme as well.

    Comment by Chris — June 10, 2008 @ 3:15 pm
  21. Race-baiting has nothing to do with what you believe, Chris. It’s about how your audience will react to your words. Even if we assume your motives were pure, you knowingly and willfully stepped into a snakepit and it unnecessarily detracted from the thesis of your work.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — June 10, 2008 @ 3:20 pm
  22. On a more general level, I’m in the boat that I don’t want to see Obama become President, and I don’t want to see McCain become President. I refuse to vote for either, because I am as opposed to McCain’s National Greatness Conservatism (which, although I’m using a term that is often misapplied, is downright similar to fascism) as I am to Obama’s soft-socialist welfare state politics.

    I can’t bring myself to actually vote for either of them. They’re both FAR too flawed. So I’m left with the choice between Barr and staying home, and I haven’t decided which way to go on that one yet.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — June 10, 2008 @ 3:26 pm
  23. Brad,

    Given the choice between Barr and apathy I figure I’ll vote for Barr. It’s not like it’s a major hassle to go vote and I agree with a lot (although certainly not all) of what he has to say so might as well toss in my vote. But since he’s not going to win, staying home isn’t really a horrible choice. As for who wins between the two major candidates, I suppose I’d prefer Obama if only because I think he’ll do less damage than McCain would, divided Congress or not.

    Besides, on the .000001% chance that Barr could pull a win, I’d find it personally amusing to put the candidate with one of the all-time most ridiculous-looking mustaches into office. Hell, if Barr grew the porkchops to go with I’d consider campaigning for him :)

    Comment by UCrawford — June 10, 2008 @ 3:39 pm
  24. Jeff, I didn’t say I didn’t believe in it; clearly, other people do, and therefore as a meme, it is real; I REJECT it, much as I reject collectivism.

    If everyone in the world believes that murder is OK, it still doesn’t make it OK. Some things are inherently so, or not so.

    Using someones proper name is a common social convention, and is only race baiting if you choose to imbue it with such meaning. The fact that many choose to do so is a symptom of their ignorance; or their acquiesence to the ignorant.

    Comment by Chris — June 10, 2008 @ 3:40 pm
  25. is only race baiting if you choose to imbue it with such meaning.

    How exactly does one do that? Interpretation is entirely in the mind of the interpreter. You had to have known how this would have been interpreted.

    And honestly, it’s not that common. Outside of assassins, famous families, and entertainers, there are very few middle names that I know.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — June 10, 2008 @ 3:51 pm
  26. Oh and whether it’s race baiting or not (it’s not), it IS sheer sophistry to say that the choice of phrasing of the mans name somehow changes the value of the argument that he is the worst of two (yes, two. No rational person would count Bob Barr as a major factor here… nor any other candidate) choice for the country.

    Technically speaking, it is a logical fallacy related to the straw man argument; that of appeal to motive.

    If you want to argue that McCain will make even worse choices, and have a more negative impact than Obama would (and several have) OK; but bringing race into this is simply a waste of time.

    …Which was a part of the point I was trying to make in rejecting the meme.

    We can’t allow the sensibilities of others to change reality. If someone chooses to be offended, they will be offended, and that is that. If they choose to deal with reality, the factual construct, then they won’t be offended.

    Comment by Chris — June 10, 2008 @ 4:56 pm
  27. Actually, let me say this… when did we decide that parsing every word for hidden meanings and implications was the normal order of business?

    Yes, for politicians this is the case, but I was not speaking in code. It shows just how far the politically correct, and the political indoctrinators, have dug their claws into our society; that it is automatically assume that I WAS.

    But that’s another rant entirely.

    Comment by Chris — June 10, 2008 @ 4:58 pm
  28. it IS sheer sophistry to say that the choice of phrasing of the mans name somehow changes the value of the argument that he is the worst of two

    The merits of your argument have been addressed in a number of posts. That such posts have been drowned out only reinforces the argument that your use of his middle name was counterproductive at best.

    If your goal in writing is to persuade your audience, you should avoid any statements that will detract from the merit of your argument. Whether or not you offend someone is irrelevant. If your thesis was about political correctness, you might intentionally offend people to make your point. In this case, however, his middle name was completely irrelevant to your thesis and you basically threadjacked yourself.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — June 10, 2008 @ 5:46 pm
  29. You guys are putting way too much thought into an action which is almost entirely consequence-free.

    Comment by Joshua Holmes — June 10, 2008 @ 5:52 pm
  30. Chris,

    It shows just how far the politically correct, and the political indoctrinators, have dug their claws into our society; that it is automatically assume that I WAS.

    Actually, since Rush Limbaugh has been calling Obama that for well over a year and since it’s an extremely common slur against Obama among the neoconservative crowd (who’ve never been above race-baiting when pushing their agenda…especially in regards to their holy war fetish) it wasn’t at all unreasonable for us to read that into what you wrote, especially since you didn’t use anyone else’s middle name in your post (despite your claims of it being your common practice).

    http://mediamatters.org/items/200701170010

    Also, there’s a difference between saying something to be politically incorrect and saying something just to be offensive. People who try to throw a candidate’s ethnicity into the debate as a slur or who try to play off ethnic or cultural hatreds are just being offensive.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 10, 2008 @ 6:26 pm
  31. Chris,
    Since every usage that I have seen lead to an anti-ISLAM condemnation or racist sentiment. When I saw you spell out his complete name, thats the context I saw. It doesn’t matter your intent or whether you knew that or not. I did read further and gave you the benefit of doubt, figuring you might have done it for emphasis; such as when a parent calls out their child’s complete name. I also think that you have your finger on the political pulse to realize that my first reaction wold be inevitable.

    Comment by VRB — June 10, 2008 @ 7:46 pm
  32. do whatever. as if you even matter.

    Comment by oilnwater — June 10, 2008 @ 10:06 pm
  33. I don’t know why Obama apologists (no, they are not supporters – there is nothing to support) bother to post here. There is nothing they could say to convince me that Obama is not as bad as his detractors say he is. In fact, both candidates are terrible and I mean this in the worst sense of the word terrible. I’ll vote for McCain because it is possible that after he has done his damage we may still have a country left to save. If Obama isn’t a Muslim, he might as well be one because he will appease the Iranians and sell out the Israelis. I know, he says he supports them but he’d support a tomato with salmonella if it would get him a vote (and then change his position when he got in front of cherry tomatoes). Obama is a Marxist and I mean this in the worst sense of the word Marxist. If we can’t see that, we’ve been listening to Obama apologists who are always telling us what he isn’t. Why don’t they just say what he is: Marxist. If he supports the idea of from each according to their ability to each according to their need (which he does support – just listen to his speeches) then he is a Marxist.

    Comment by Rob Diego — June 11, 2008 @ 3:23 am
  34. I will either stay home, or else vote for Bob Barr. I live in NY, so perhaps it’s easier for me, since I assume the majority of people in my state will vote for Obama.
    In general, I think this year that the “civil liberties” question trumps all the others – even taxes. I don’t expect a great deal from Obama, but I expect NOTHING GOOD from McCain on that score.

    Comment by Tom G — June 11, 2008 @ 6:20 am
  35. Rob,

    If Obama isn’t a Muslim, he might as well be one because he will appease the Iranians and sell out the Israelis

    Right, because diplomacy equals cowardice. Always nice to see the neocon trolls toss their two cents in.

    First of all, there’s nothing really wrong with Muslims so I wouldn’t care if Obama was one or not. Muslims are people who operate out of self-interest same as the rest of us. Our problems are with a few groups (mostly al-Qaeda). Most of our problems with them are created as a result of our foreign policy in their region, which has traditionally entailed overthrowing their governments, stealing their land, and getting involved in their internal conflicts so our politicians have a bright shiny “accomplishment” to show the voters at election time. So I don’t really blame the Muslims for having a less than high opinion of us. But then I’m also not somebody who believes that the U.S. should be able to do whatever the hell they want in the world without having to respect anyone else’s sovereignty or rights.

    Secondly, I don’t really give a damn whether Obama “betrays” Israel (by which I’m assuming you mean you think he’ll refuse to give them unconditional support). Israel hasn’t been a better friend to us than any number of Middle Eastern countries (Turkey, Qatar, Jordan to name the most prominent examples). In fact, they’ve been much worse than many over there. Unlike most Middle Eastern countries, their government has actually attacked our troops unprovoked (the U.S. Liberty incident), they’ve stolen our government secrets (the Jonathan Pollard and Lawrence Franklin spy cases) and our unconditional support for them has done more to poison the well for us in the Middle East than anything else we’ve done (since the creation of Israel was done through out and out land theft from the Muslims, pushed by our president, which the Muslims have never forgotten). The Israelis have been a country now for 60 years. If they can’t get along with their neighbors that’s their problem, not ours. If they can’t figure out a way to fix the Palestinian situation that’s their problem, not ours. Last I checked, Israel isn’t the 51st state, they aren’t paying taxes to us, their citizens don’t usually vote in our elections, and they have their own military (quite a good one) so I have no idea why anyone thinks we owe it to them to bail them out whenever they’ve got a problem.

    Actually, it’s not really a secret why politicians think that way…it’s because there’s campaign contributions in it for them.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIPAC

    Comment by UCrawford — June 11, 2008 @ 6:32 am
  36. This post and thread (exceptions being made for UCrawford, Jeff, etc.) reminds me of why I stopped considering myself a creature of the right and now have far more hope for the American political left.
    Nothing typifies this more than Rob’s comment which not only makes completely and utterly unsupported assertions and assumptions about other people, but then makes clear that he is unwilling to even consider any evidence that might undermine his point. This unwillingness to even consider inapposite facts has become far more typical of the American Right these days than the American Left at the moment. Rhetoric on the political Right has far too often become nothing more than an attempt to whip up nationalistic and nativist sentiments without making any appeal to reason whatsoever.

    It is, to be completely blunt, despicable, and I can imagine nothing more contrary to the principles of libertarianism and freedom.

    NOTE- I do not include the entire political Right in this statement, as there are still voices on the Right that I respect (e.g., Ed Morrissey). Nor do I think that the Left is devoid of unreasonable people. But the political right is now on average far, far worse than the political Left on this type of thing. Call it the Limbaugh/Coulter/Malkin factor.

    Comment by Mark — June 11, 2008 @ 7:19 am
  37. Mark,

    Actually, I was cleaning out my house the other day and came across a copy of Newsweek with William F. Buckley’s obituary. Their assessment was that his greatest contribution to the “right” was to weed out the most noxious idiots (the John Birchers being a prime example) but that over time they’d eventually crept back in and we really needed another Buckley to do some more weeding. I thought the comment was accurate.

    Personally, I’ve never really considered myself right-wing or left-wing (since that’s really just a party thing). I always found myself agreeing more with the Republicans on economics and small government and the Democrats more on civil liberties. I tended to vote Republican more often because I considered the economics and small government more important as they’re what’s necessary to set the stage for advances in civil liberty. The current GOP crop, however, doesn’t believe in small government or economic freedom much at all, so I don’t consider them anything but a bunch of religious nutjobs and national greatness fascists who’d love nothing more than to take a lighter to the Constitution and replace it with the Bible. Problem is, the Democrats haven’t changed their economics to compensate (they haven’t had to since the GOP became so extreme) so they’re not really acceptable either. Only choice really for a libertarian looking for a political party is the Libertarian Party…but then you know all the baggage they carry as well. Of course, now that Barr (a somewhat libertarian-friendly conservative who’s not a nutjob and who’s result-oriented) appears to have taken the reins of the LP, that may change in the future if what he’s doing can spread throughout the organization.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 11, 2008 @ 7:59 am
  38. UCrawford:
    I couldn’t agree more, although I have more long-term hope that the political Left will improve on economic issues over time than that the political Right will improve on civil liberties (and foreign affairs) issues over time. I’ve had three posts over the last couple weeks that explain why I think this (bottom line: I think the pro-Hillary elements of the Dem Party are primarily responsible for the Dem Party’s bad economics; if they leave the party over time, then I think the Dems will be more libertarian-friendly on economics issues as the Republicans continue to move away from free-trade principles; believe it or not, when party labels are stripped from the equation, the average Dem is actually slightly more pro-free trade than the average Republican).
    In any event, your point about WFB is dead-on. I suspect that the Left needs to find its version of a WFB before it can dominate the libertarian-leaning vote the way that the political Right did for the last 40 plus years.

    Comment by Mark — June 11, 2008 @ 8:20 am
  39. This unwillingness to even consider inapposite facts has become far more typical of the American Right these days than the American Left at the moment.

    I think it just seems that way because the Right has had a bigger microphone for a long while. It’s hard to find intellectually sound arguments on either side of the aisle and that isn’t going to change any time soon.

    I think the pro-Hillary elements of the Dem Party are primarily responsible for the Dem Party’s bad economics; if they leave the party over time, then I think the Dems will be more libertarian-friendly on economics issues

    I don’t see that happening. The GOP pushing towards statism just gives the Dems the excuse to push even farther. Just look at Europe. You would think there’d be a huge market for libertarianism there, but that’s not how it works. All of their parties continue pushing towards statism; the only variations are in speed and angle.

    It’ll take some ungodly education and persuasion on our part to turn the tide; it won’t happen on its own.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — June 11, 2008 @ 8:39 am
  40. Jeff,

    Just look at Europe. You would think there’d be a huge market for libertarianism there, but that’s not how it works. All of their parties continue pushing towards statism; the only variations are in speed and angle.

    Oh, I completely agree. The Tories and Labour are basically just two sides of the same big government coin in British politics. I think part of that has to do with the way in which they carried out privatization in England though (when they went the small government route for awhile). As an example, sometime in the late 90′s early 00′s (I think) the government privatized utilities because they felt it would make things less expensive, offer better service for consumers. Problem is, however, that several of the new companies used practices that actually defrauded their clientele (particularly in regards to billing) because they still operated under government license, the courts always sided with the utility companies regardless of how well-documented their customers’ claims were or how shaky the utility companies’ case was, and the utility companies would often work together to deny service to people who they had disagreements with. To make matters worse the government created barriers to entry that prevented new competitors from entering the marketplace so what you really had was a government-sponsored cartel, not a free market. Problem is, most of the people and the press didn’t realize that subtle difference…the politicians said it was free market (and probably believed it), the people assumed it was the free market in practice, so free market economics got the bad rap.

    Basically when you’ve got a system as tainted as that, it’s very difficult to get meaningful reform passed unless a crisis pops up that forces reform. The Brits haven’t had that crisis, yet. I think we may be getting close to that point.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 11, 2008 @ 9:13 am
  41. I don’t get how some people think that the democrats will all of a sudden see the light on economic issues. Ever since at least FDR they have been pushing for more and bigger gov’t in regards to economic issues. And it just seems to be getting worse, especially since they now have the cover that the republicans are also becoming big gov’t on economic issues.

    I guess I have more faith that the republicans will go back to small gov’t beliefs on economic issues before the democrats will, as it wasn’t that long ago that the republicans came to power with that belief. They lost power when they became big gov’t pushers.

    On civil rights issues I see it somewhat as a push. On certain issues the religous right has a big hold on the republicans and they are very much against indiviudal rights, but while the democrats may be opposed to the religous right on these issues (more for political reasons than idelogical reasons) their standard answer to almost every question is that the gov’t knows better than the indidivual and to protect people we need the gov’t overseeing them, so we need gov’t regulation and more and bigger gov’t programs.

    If the republicans weren’t such big drug war zealots I believe that democrats would likely be just as big of zealots against drugs as they are against smokers. For political reasons, however, the republicans already have that position so the democrats have to look like they are somewhat opposed to them.

    Comment by TerryP — June 11, 2008 @ 9:31 am
  42. TerryP,

    I guess I have more faith that the republicans will go back to small gov’t beliefs on economic issues before the democrats will

    I gave up that idea once they nominated a presidential candidate who sidled up to Bush, who argues that the Iraq War is legitimate or worthwhile, who has sponsored legislation that he knew to be blatantly un-Constitutional, who argues for unchecked executive power and who’s considering Mike Huckabee (possibly the biggest fraud in the GOP) as his running mate. That’s not the sign of a party that’s close to figuring out what their problems are.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 11, 2008 @ 9:51 am
  43. UC,

    To make matters worse the government created barriers to entry that prevented new competitors from entering the marketplace so what you really had was a government-sponsored cartel, not a free market. Problem is, most of the people and the press didn’t realize that subtle difference…the politicians said it was free market (and probably believed it), the people assumed it was the free market in practice, so free market economics got the bad rap.

    Standard practice. Look at the late-90′s “deregulation” of electricity here in California. It wasn’t a deregulation at all, it was a sweetheart deal given to the utilities allowing them to buy electricity at low rates while still selling at high rates. Unfortunately for them (and partially due to the regulations that still existed), spot prices rose and they couldn’t charge customers more to compensate, and they ended up getting screwed– and screwing most of us with rolling blackouts/etc in the process*.

    All the while, “deregulation” gets a bad name, when the market wasn’t being deregulated at all.

    * PS – There’s the whole Enron question of manipulation of the market to push up the spot price (and taking advantage of the regulation that the utilities couldn’t enter long-term contracts), but Enron is a whole different debate and there’s no point to entering it here.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — June 11, 2008 @ 10:12 am
  44. but Enron is a whole different debate and there’s no point to entering it here.

    We’re already off on three tangents. What’s one more? :-)

    Comment by Jeff Molby — June 11, 2008 @ 10:19 am
  45. Brad,

    Yup…our nation’s method of handling energy is definitely screwed up. Problem is that not enough people realize that it’s government intervention and regulation doing the screwing.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 11, 2008 @ 10:36 am
  46. Brad,

    Actually when I moved from England and closed out all my utilities they tried to do the same to me. I closed out my accounts, submitted all of my information so they could do an accurate tally and paid what they said I owed. Three months later they sent me a bill claiming I owed them an additional $1,700 bucks because apparently they’d been making up the meter readings on my property for four years, they’d been consistently underbilling me (which they knew and never told me) and they never sent a meter reader out to check (as they were required to do by law…a law that courts refuse to uphold). If I’d been a Brit, I would have had to pay or I couldn’t get electricity anywhere and they’d have messed up my credit. Since I’m not and didn’t live there anymore I was able to tell them to go fuck themselves.

    Felt good. :)

    Comment by UCrawford — June 11, 2008 @ 10:41 am
  47. TerryP,
    If our hosts will forgive my self-promotion, I explain more fully the rationale for this in the posts below (one of which may have been my most linked-to post ever):
    http://publiusendures.blogspot.com/2008/06/my-two-cents-on-dnc-deal.html

    http://publiusendures.blogspot.com/2008/06/towards-libertarian-realignment.html

    http://publiusendures.blogspot.com/2008/06/political-coalition-shifting-redux.html

    You are correct that the Dems have largely been in favor of big gov’t since FDR (although both Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter took a surprising number of steps to reduce the size of gov’t, especially compared to the big-government authoritarianism of Nixon and Bush). However, you are assuming that political coalitions are static and monolithic. This isn’t true- political coalitions change over time; as those coalitions change, the coalition’s positions change to reflect the priorities of coalition members, usually under one unifying umbrella issue.

    Comment by Mark — June 11, 2008 @ 10:45 am
  48. UC

    You are right I don’t have much faith in the republican party to go back to limited gov’t beliefs in the imediate future either, but I do think they will move back to it far easier and quicker than the democrats as it is just not something that is anywhere on the Democrats radar screen. It is totally against how they think. To most democrats the Gov’t is the answer to every problem. Less gov’t as a solution to a problem just doesn’t register with them.

    Comment by TerryP — June 11, 2008 @ 8:11 pm
  49. TerryP,

    I’m not quite so optimistic on the notion of the Republicans reforming sooner than the Dems. Frankly, I think they’re about as far away from a pro-liberty agenda right now as either party has ever been. And they don’t seem to get why it is that the electorate’s got a problem with them…kind of like how the Dems were before they got booted in 1994, except that election losses in ’06 don’t seem to be fazing the GOP because they’re heading full-force down the same path as before the election.

    I agree with Brad’s post on the matter anyway…it doesn’t really matter who gets elected because a freer society isn’t going to flow from whoever gets into the White House. True liberty is and always has been about building from the ground up.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 11, 2008 @ 9:56 pm
  50. UC

    You are right that most of the republicans still don’t get it. But unlike the democrats in congress, there are a few republicans that do seem to get it: Jeff Flake and Paul Ryan are a couple that come to mind at least in regards to economic issues.

    While the republicans are pretty far away from a pro-liberty agenda, the democrats are no better. They want universal gov’t health insurance, a windfall income tax just for gas companies, a enormous encroachment on liberty and in additional taxes with global warming and alternative energy mandates and taxes that will likely solve nothing. They are pretty luke warm in their defense for adults to do drugs and are hostile to adults smoking, eating what they want, etc. While the republicans, John McCain especially, are terrible in regards to their actions with the war, terrorism, and the rights they have stomped on because of them, the democrats have been been very complacent to let them do it and have been cheerleaders in some cases.

    What it boils down to me is, while John McCain is terrible, he will have a democratic congress to deal with so he will likely be unable to get some of the things he wants done. Obama on the other hand would have a extremely willing congress to pass anything that he wants and he will likely let everything that the democratic Congress wants through as well. John McCain will likely be able to use his veto pen a few times against terrible legislation pushed through by a democratic congress.

    The only saving grace would be that maybe Obama and a democratic Congress will do such crappy things that in two-four years we can bring back some sanity. However, in the meantime a universal gov’t health insurance will likely be passed, global warming legislation will likely be passed, taxes will be increased greatly, nothing will be done about the rights that the Bush administration stepped on, nothing will be done about out of control entitilements, we will likely still be in Iraq, and they will still be blaming the oil companies for high gas prices, instead of their reluctance to allow domestic drilling and overregulation. The Universal health insurance and global warming programs will likely never be undone until there is no money left similar to Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc, but just added to. That means that it will come out of yours and mine pocketbooks, yet we are unlikely to see any benefit from them. Any money that we could have been saving for our own healthcare and retirement will have been squandered by the gov’t instead.

    Comment by TerryP — June 12, 2008 @ 8:13 am
  51. TerryP,

    I do like Flake on economic issues (not so much on civil liberties, but I don’t think he’s a fascist). But the fiscally responsible Republicans are the exception, and they’re not respected within the party. The GOP actually kicked Flake off of his spot on Judiciary for blasting Republican legislators that gouged the government for money…because they felt that criticism of other Republicans, no matter what they did, was “bad behavior”. Just look how the Republicans have largely closed ranks behind guys like Ted Stevens and Don Young…and it’s looking more and more like those guys were engaged in actual graft, not just earmarks.

    Like I said, even getting beat in 2006 isn’t waking them up to their problems. Their leadership structure basically needs a full-blown enema right now. Maybe that will change after 2008, but I’m not real optimistic.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 12, 2008 @ 8:43 am
  52. TerryP,

    And I wouldn’t be so sure about McCain being unable to work with a Democratic Congress. He’s coming out of the Senate, he’s worked with most of those Democrats before and ideologically he’s not really much different from them. There’s an excellent chance he’ll be able to find enough common ground to work out “bi-partisan” legislation that we’ll all hate.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 12, 2008 @ 9:12 am
  53. It’s too bad that our nation can’t throw all of the candidates off the ballot and redo this process. Surely we could get better candidates a second time around. 8-)

    Comment by Ken H — June 12, 2008 @ 8:48 pm
  54. Ken, if that happened we would get virtually the same choices again.

    I don’t think the Democrat elites have much love for Obama.

    McCain pledged no new taxes.

    Comment by uhm — June 12, 2008 @ 10:53 pm
  55. We just found out how Obama will likely lead. He has decided to essentially take over and move the DNC to his offices in Chicago. He is also likely taking over many state democratic groups over as well. It doesn’t seem to matter to him that the DNC has many other goals than just electing him or that states have many different goals than just electing him.

    So I assume this is how he will lead as well. Top-down, centralized control, no matter if some people have differing goals. It is going to be all about him and what he wants. No individual liberty found here. No de-centralization here. He sounds like a typical democratic politician. So much for change.

    Comment by TerryP — June 13, 2008 @ 8:51 am
  56. UC

    I agree with you that McCain will likely push some liberal legislation that the democrats will support. He just won’t likely pass as much as Obama and he may be able to put in a little bit of free-market things into legislation that Obama is unlikely to do.

    Just look at McCains plans for health care. It is far more free-market oriented than anything the democrats are proposing. It is likely that if anything is passed it will be a compromise of some sort. With Obama it will be pure socialization and likely throw out some of the free-market things such as HSA’s that have been done over the last few years.

    I agree that the fiscally responsible republican is the exception, but the fiscally responsible democrat is non-existent. The republicans have some people to build around if they move in the direction of more limited gov’t and usually the party that is out of power is the one that moves in that direction. Democrats have no one to build around and the whole concept of smaller-limited gov’t is foreign to them. It is something they have been fighting against for years, so I don’t anticipate them changing that, especially since they will be the party in power.

    Comment by TerryP — June 13, 2008 @ 9:04 am
  57. TerryP,

    It is far more free-market oriented than anything the democrats are proposing.

    Any plan by a politician for health care that doesn’t involve abolishing large amounts of government regulation (and not creating more to compensate) cannot be classifed in any way as “free market”. From his plan…

    http://johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/19ba2f1c-c03f-4ac2-8cd5-5cf2edb527cf.htm

    An important part of his plan is to use competition to improve the quality of health insurance with greater variety to match people’s needs, lower prices, and portability. Families should be able to purchase health insurance nationwide, across state lines.

    Unless they’re cutting regulations (which his plan doesn’t discuss a lot, except in regards to drug approval) this goal doesn’t appear to be possible without heavily regulating the insurance industry and imposing price controls. Price controls of any sort should be an automatic non-starter.

    Promoting The Availability Of Smoking Cessation Programs. Most smokers would love to quit but find it hard to do so. Working with business and insurance companies to promote availability, we can improve lives and reduce chronic disease through smoking cessation programs.

    This isn’t a call for less regulation. This is a call for a new government-run health care program. If it’s free-market, the government doesn’t need to address smokers because insurance and the medical community can address the costs smokers create without needing the government’s intervention.

    Passing Medical Liability Reform. We must pass medical liability reform that eliminates lawsuits directed at doctors who follow clinical guidelines and adhere to safety protocols. Every patient should have access to legal remedies in cases of bad medical practice but that should not be an invitation to endless, frivolous lawsuits.

    In other words, under McCain’s proposal, so long as the medical care provider has the government’s seal of approval most malpractice suits will be deemed frivolous. As anyone who pays attention to regulation knows, just because somebody was in compliance with the regs doesn’t mean they weren’t negligent. It’s not Congress’ role to determine what lawsuits are frivolous or not…it’s the courts’.

    I realize I’m cherry-picking a bit on his proposals and that there were more (some of which I’ll admit merit further discussion), but I don’t have a ton of time to dig deeper today until after work.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 13, 2008 @ 9:27 am
  58. UCrawford- as much as I am opposed to McCain, I think the Terry P is correct in providing McCain’s health care proposal with limited praise. On the whole, it actually does quite a bit to reduce government’s involvement in health care.
    The part about allowing health insurance to be carried and purchased across state lines is actually less a function of increasing regulation of the insurance industry as it is a way of overcoming over-regulation of the insurance industry on the state level. Probably one of the biggest problems with our health insurance fiasco is that insurance policies are very much creatures of state law- different states require mandatory coverage of different things. By permitting insurance to be purchased across state lines, McCain’s plan effectively just allows people to buy health insurance that is less comprehensive than the minimum coverage required by their state.
    I agree with you about the smoking cessation programs and about the malpractice “reform.” But on the whole, his plan actually does quite a bit to reduce government intervention in the health insurance market.

    Comment by Mark — June 13, 2008 @ 9:57 am
  59. The part about allowing health insurance to be carried and purchased across state lines is actually less a function of increasing regulation of the insurance industry as it is a way of overcoming over-regulation of the insurance industry on the state level.

    Make sure you use your experience to think big picture on this. Nationalizing health care regulations may result in a net decrease in regulations in the short run, but I’ll bet my bottom dollar the the long term result will be at least as much regulation as we have now and we’ll no longer be able to escape it by moving to reasonable states.

    Not worth it, in my mind.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — June 13, 2008 @ 11:43 am
  60. Jeff:
    I really disagree on that. This isn’t a step towards bureaucracy or federalizing health care regulations; instead it is a valid and appropriate exercise of the commerce clause that as far as I can tell would merely say that any health insurance valid in one state is equally valid and buy-able in any other state.

    Frankly, I think that state prohibitions on the type of insurance that can be purchased in that state are quite likely unconstitutional under a textualist constitutional interpretation. We tend to forget that state restrictions on trade with other states is strictly prohibited by the Constitution. I believe that, in effect and intent, these state level regulations do exactly that. McCain’s proposal merely overrides the effect of those discriminatory restrictions on trade.

    I do not read his proposal, however, as requiring that insurance companies offer their policies nationwide – just as permitting insurance companies to offer their policies nationwide.

    Comment by Mark — June 13, 2008 @ 12:10 pm
  61. Mark,

    Those are some valid points about interstate commerce. I’d tend to agree with Jeff, however, that it’s opening up the door for future abuse by the feds. But then that’s just as likely to happen if we left it as is, so I tend to favor your argument on that. My concerns, however, are on whether he intends to use price controls which, frankly, some of his proposal seems indicate he’s in favor of. Particularly once he gets into things like controlling costs by dealing with smokers. If he’s for price controls, there’s still no way we should back his proposal, whether or not he’s correct about the interstate commerce angle.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 13, 2008 @ 12:34 pm
  62. instead it is a valid and appropriate exercise of the commerce clause that as far as I can tell would merely say that any health insurance valid in one state is equally valid and buy-able in any other state.

    That’s a verbose way of saying that each state would no longer be able to set the ground rules for their state.

    I think that state prohibitions on the type of insurance that can be purchased in that state are quite likely unconstitutional under a textualist constitutional interpretation. We tend to forget that state restrictions on trade with other states is strictly prohibited by the Constitution.

    I don’t see how that’s the case. Every state is free to regulate any business taking place in that state subject only to the limitations imposed by their state constitution. Health care only stands out because it happens to regulated to a higher degree than most other businesses.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — June 13, 2008 @ 12:37 pm
  63. Jeff,

    That’s a verbose way of saying that each state would no longer be able to set the ground rules for their state.

    Actually, I think Mark may be onto something on that. There’s been a creeping incrementalism in how states handle commerce that originates in other states (especially in the Internet age, with places like Amazon, for example) where it’s using state regulations to function as tariffs and protectionism without calling it such.

    I tend to favor states’ rights too, but that doesn’t mean I believe states should be able to do whatever the hell they want without federal interference when there appears to be a solid argument in the Constitution for federal intervention.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 13, 2008 @ 12:47 pm
  64. What’s new about it, UC? The internet has certainly increased the amount interstate commerce, but I don’t see how the nature of the regulations have changed; I think they’ve just become more apparent.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — June 13, 2008 @ 1:09 pm
  65. “Actually, I think Mark may be onto something on that. There’s been a creeping incrementalism in how states handle commerce that originates in other states (especially in the Internet age, with places like Amazon, for example) where it’s using state regulations to function as tariffs and protectionism without calling it such.”

    Exactly- and under the Constitution, this is supposed to be prohibited. One of the things that the Constitution did that any libertarian ought to love was that it tried to provide a guarantee of free trade between the states; this guarantee is why, for instance, a state can’t decide that a licensed driver in another state is prohibited from driving on that state’s roads. The problem is that rather than apply a (relatively) strict view against restrictions on trade as is laid out in the Constitution, the courts over time decided that restrictions on trade ought to be subject to what is effectively a balancing test(the exact boundaries of which I don’t feel looking up right now).

    But the idea that an insurance policy can be sufficient in one state but not in another is beyond absurd. What McCain’s proposal does, on this point at least, is eliminate that absurdity.

    Comment by Mark — June 13, 2008 @ 1:39 pm
  66. Jeff,

    Actually I’d use what Mark just said as a response to your question.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 13, 2008 @ 2:21 pm
  67. Jeff,

    What’s new about it, UC?

    Because of how they tax those things you order. With Amazon, for example, since it’s a national chain you don’t normally pay taxes on the things you order. However, the state of Kansas was exceedingly unhappy about what they perceived as a detriment to local businesses and a loss of tax revenue so, since Amazon has a major distribution center in Coffeyville everyone who ordered a product from Amazon that went through the Coffeyville distribution center therefore had to pay state sales tax, whereas people purchasing through the same distribution center in other states don’t. It’s basically a tariff by the state of Kansas.

    Of course, Amazon figured a way around this by no longer shipping goods ordered in Kansas from their Coffeyville center, the end result being that while you don’t pay sales tax on those goods it takes longer to get what you order. But they shouldn’t have to do that and the point is that this is the kind of thing that the commerce clause was designed to avoid.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 13, 2008 @ 2:28 pm
  68. I don’t get your example, UC. There’s no way sales tax on a good shipped from Coffeyville to Topeka could be considered a tariff.

    Frankly, I can see how any sales tax can be considered a protectionist tariff. They apply first and foremost to all goods physically sold inside the state. Even if they ever managed to tax all internet orders, that would still do nothing more than level the playing field. Sales taxes are nothing more than an indirect tax on the people of the state. There’s nothing about them that assists local producers.

    Clearly, though, the congress does have the authority to implement McCain’s plan; It is blatantly interstate commerce. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to do so. Mark, you’re continuing to focus on the guy in Nevada that would like access to a cheaper, less regulated plan available to his friend in Arizona. Don’t undervalue the fact that the friend in Arizona, at least, is able to get a less regulated policy.

    If you nationalize it, it’s only a matter of time before the high regulations become par for the course and then society will lose all perspective about the cost of various regulations. If nothing else, at least the status quo gives us “50 laboratories” that give us meaningful comparisons.

    If you really really really want to make things easier for the legal/marketing departments of insurance companies, you should at least make your national mandates flexible. Create a set of “high”, “medium”, and “low” regulations and then let each state adopt the one they feel is appropriate. At least try to retain a little bit of diversity.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — June 13, 2008 @ 3:57 pm
  69. But the idea that an insurance policy can be sufficient in one state but not in another is beyond absurd.

    That’s not the idea, though. The idea is that even if there is some magical set of regulations that qualifies as optimally “sufficient”, we mortals don’t know what it is. Therefore each state is free to take its best stab at it. It’s the same as how blue laws vary from state to state. The only difference is that alcohol isn’t a national electoral issue these days.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — June 13, 2008 @ 4:03 pm
  70. UC

    I never said that McCain’s healthcare plan is some libertopia. It is far from it, but it is certainly better than the democrats gov’t takeover of the entire healthcare system. Because once we go to a gov’t system for healthcare there is no going back.

    My point, however, is that Obama will be able to pass everything he wants and congress will be able to pass everything they want with an Obama Presidency. The only thing stopping them possibly will be the Senate if the republicans don’t lose to many seats. McCain will not be able to pass everything he wants and Congress will also not be able to pass everything they want either with a McCain Presidency. There will likely be some compromising to pass some crappy legislation, but on the whole I would rather have divided gov’t, even with a crappy President such as McCain, then an undivided gov’t headed by Obama.

    This doesn’t mean I will vote for McCain but in our current situation I would rather have McCain with a democratic Congress than Obama with a democratic congress. If the republicans were in control of Congress I would rather have Obama over McCain.

    Comment by TerryP — June 13, 2008 @ 7:48 pm
  71. The last year and half has probably been Bush’s best period of his Presidency, basically because he hasn’t been able to get anything done. He has also stopped the democrats from getting to much done as well. He also all of a sudden at least sounds a little more fiscally conservative. Why is this the case? Because we have divided gov’t. My guess is that a McCain Presidency would be pretty similar to the last year and a half. An Obama Presidency would be more like the first part of Bush’s presidency when he had a republican congress, passing all kinds of crap legislation, never using his veto pen, fiscal restraint being thrown out the window, and numerous individual rights being trampled on without a thought. I also don’t believe that Obama will do to much to get us out of the middle east. He will probably be more restrained then McCain, but with a divided gov’t McCain may not be able to get us in much deeper either.

    Comment by TerryP — June 13, 2008 @ 8:03 pm
  72. TerryP,

    The last year and half has probably been Bush’s best period of his Presidency, basically because he hasn’t been able to get anything done.

    The best period of his presidency will be the day he leaves the White House for the final time so the presidential chopper can dump him on his ranch and get him out of our lives.

    Comment by UCrawford — June 13, 2008 @ 9:29 pm
  73. UC

    Agreed.

    Comment by TerryP — June 14, 2008 @ 9:25 am

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