Monthly Archives: September 2008

UPDATE: Campaign Denies that Obama Used Stall Tactics with Iraq on Troop Withdrawal

Some readers have questioned the veracity of the article I cited in yesterday’s post (which is a good thing and should be encouraged). I am not familiar with the work of the article’s author, Amir Taheri and cannot speak to his credibility one way or the other. I realize that there is a great deal of misinformation from both the Right and the Left in the Blogs as well as the MSM concerning the top candidates running for president and vice president. Like many people, I’m just trying to find the truth.

Having said that, the charge by Taheri is very serious and deserves to be investigated further by the MSM. There’s an article in today’s New York Post written by Geoff Earle which reports that the Obama campaign has responded to Taheri’s article:

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama said yesterday he didn’t urge Iraq to hold up an agreement with the Bush administration over the status of US troops serving in Iraq.

“Obama has never urged a delay in negotiations, nor has he urged a delay in immediately beginning a responsible drawdown of our combat brigades,” said Wendy Morigi, an Obama spokeswoman in response to a column in yesterday’s Post.

Morigi cited “outright distortions” in an column by Amir Taheri, but the Obama camp did not specifically dispute any of the quotes in the piece.

I’ll see if I can find the actual statement from the Obama campaign to find out which parts of the Taheri article they claim to be “outright distortions.”

More to come…

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Iraqi Foreign Minister: Obama Asked Iraqi Leaders to Delay U.S. Troop Withdrawal Agreement Until After the Election

If this turns out to be true, this could be the most damning scandal exposed of any of the candidates seeking to be the next president or vice president. According to an article in The New York Post, Sen. Barack Obama told Iraqi leaders to delay a U.S. troop withdrawal agreement until after the presidential election:

WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

“He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington,” Zebari said in an interview.

[…]

Obama has made many contradictory statements with regard to Iraq. His latest position is that US combat troops should be out by 2010. Yet his effort to delay an agreement would make that withdrawal deadline impossible to meet.

Obama has made ending the war in Iraq a hallmark of his campaign. Is he more concerned about bringing the troops home sooner than later or does he really want the troops to remain in Iraq just long enough so he can take credit for fulfilling a campaign promise? The idea that a presidential candidate would try to keep the troops in harm’s way any longer than he believes necessary is truly disturbing.

Regardless of my political differences with Sen. Barack Obama, I sincerely hope this turns out to be untrue. Perhaps those in the MSM can get over their “tingly feelings” for a moment and actually do their jobs and follow up to find out if this is true.

Do Strict Constructionists Wish to Bring Back Slavery?

The View seems to be an endless source of idiotic commentary, especially in the realm of politics. It appears that Whoopi picked up where Rosie left off when Sen. John McCain appeared on the show.

To have “a strict constructionist” philosophy means to return to slavery and other injustices of the era of the founding fathers? What Whoopi fails to understand (and what Sen. McCain failed to explain) is that the founders themselves knew that the Constitution as written was not perfect and would have to change over time via the amendment process:

Article V. – Amendment

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

On December 6, 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery:

1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

A strict constructionist judge would, by definition, take Article V and the Thirteenth Amendment into account because a strict constructionist judge would rule on the current state of the Constitution; not as it was approved in convention on September 17, 1787.

Having said that, I do not believe that a President McCain would appoint strict constructionists any more than any other president has in recent memory. Anyone who could have authored the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, a law which undermines the very foundation of freedom of speech and expression, cannot be taken seriously as someone who respects and/or supports the Constitution. In the modern political parlance, the term “strict constructionist” has become a codeword* for someone who supports whatever the current so-called conservative agenda happens to be. If McCain were serious about appointing strict constructionists, he would appoint individuals who would find many of the Bush Administration’s policies, executive orders, signing statements and laws unconstitutional. Many of McCain’s own proposals would also necessarily be D.O.A.

But Whoopi need not worry: if McCain does become the next POTUS, she will not find herself picking cotton. Even by McCain’s definition of “strict constructionist.”

» Read more

In fact, let me say unequivocally, I’m OK with more people dying, so long as we have more freedom; be it with drugs, or guns, or sex, or anything else.

Are there limits? Of course there are; at the very least, my fist is limited by your nose… but doing immoral, unethical, and unconstitutional things (and I include setting arbitrary limits on freedom in that list) in service of “a good cause”, does not make those things right.

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

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

Voting — Americans Do It Like They Eat

Over here, a YouTube clip of Craig Ferguson discusses the election. Most of his rant is spot-on (and hilarious), but he talks about American’s “duty” to vote. He goes a bit off line when he says that our American Democracy is about:

free people making free choices…

…in this case, to choose which candidate will make us less free, and how.

Americans vote like we eat. I don’t think freedom’s on that menu. It’s like going into Cracker Barrel trying to find health food, and having a choice between the country breakfast with ham, eggs, hash browns, or the flapjacks and bacon, smothered in syrup. One may be marginally better for you than the other, but neither are good*. They may both make you feel good for a short time, but the long-term effects are pretty well negative.
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Sarah Palin & The Libertarian Republicans

Reason’s Radley Balko takes a look at Sarah Palin and concludes that she’s about the best libertarian Republicans can expect right now:

[W]hat I like about Palin should bother McCain. Palin actually has staked out unorthodox positions on a number of interesting issues, and they’re issues that McCain and the Republican base that has embraced her would probably find troubling. Palin’s taken a lot of heat, for example, for her (relatively loose) ties with the Alaska Independence Party, an organization that favors a vote on whether the state should secede from the union. Palin has also been friendly with the state’s Libertarian Party. Palin’s willingness to engage pro-liberty, deeply anti-federal political organizations—even fringe ones—is refreshing. But it’s wholly at odds with John McCain’s “country first” nationalist fervor.

Palin was also one of just three governors in the country to issue a proclamation in support of “Jurors’ Rights” day, an event sponsored by the Fully Informed Jury Association, which encourages the doctrine of jury nullification. Nullification is an idea abhorred by tough-on-crime conservatives.

Palin also comes from a state whose constitution has one of the strongest privacy provisions in the country. Alaska’s traditional reverence for privacy and personal autonomy is reflected in a number of issues that would likely be at odds with the national Republican Party—or at least the Bush administration—including a rejection of the Real ID Act, and the de facto decriminalization of marijuana.

Palin supported both the Iraq War and the surge, but in the past she has said she also supports a defined “exit strategy,” an approach explicitly rejected by McCain, who has said we may well be in Iraq for decades.

Palin’s persona thus far seems to be more in the tradition of Alaska’s frontier, individualistic conservatism than John McCain’s Weekly Standard-style national greatness conservatism. It’s a philosophy that’s skeptical of government, instead of what Repubilcans stand for now, which is to embrace government, so long as Republicans are running it.

Of course, as Balko points out, we are voting for President in November, not Vice-President, and there’s no reason to believe that a Vice-President Palin would have significant influence over policy in a McCain Administration. Moreover, there’s the distinct possibility that becoming part of Washington’s power centers will change Palin enough that her previous, somewhat positive, record will be meaningless if she ever does become President. However, there may be something significant in the fact that McCain has essentially crowned as his successor someone who could help move the GOP in a more libertarian direction.

Sarah Palin isn’t enough to convince me to vote for John McCain, but he could’ve done a heck of a lot worse.

Some Damn Good Advice From an American by Choice

No further commentary necessary.

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

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

The Palin Bump — Bigger Than I Expected

I’ve been saying for a long time that I’ve long figured this election was in the bag for Obama. Given the degree to which the nation is fed up with Bush and desiring change, coupled with the fact that he’s a dynamic speaker and near-celebrity, finally added to the historic demographic story of potentially ‘the first Black President’, and I thought it was a foregone conclusion.

As evidence, before the conventions, my favorite “poll”, the prediction market Intrade, had Obama trading at about a 60 share for the presidency with McCain trading about 39-40. A 60-40 split would have probably signified a landslide.

So I was shocked when I checked it today. Obama is trading at 53, McCain at 47. That kind of a move in this short of a time, given no major scandals, is a big deal. We’re talking “major chink in the armor” big deal. To see this happen in a week or so is a trend in the making.

Which, of course, just goes to show you that the American electorate is a fickle bunch. A woman whom the American public barely knows has just moved the real balance of electoral odds by a 14-point swing.

When it comes to Palin, I’ve said previously that she’s probably the best a Republican can expect, and is a mixed bag to libertarians. But when you see a VP candidate swing the odds this much, how can you not believe that our electoral process has become anything but American Idol writ large?

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UPDATE 9/10/2008 – 7:39 PM : Even more shocking news. One night later, and Intrade has it 50-50…

Inconvenient Convention Facts and Fictions Exposed

Now that the conventions are over, it’s time to separate the facts from the fiction. With so much misinformation being peddled by the political campaigns (not to mention rumors spread through e-mail, the internet and the MSM), this is very often a difficult task. My approach is to be skeptical until I am satisfied that I have looked at a variety of sources which I believe to be objective. Snopes and Factcheck.org are among the sources I use as a starting point.

The video below comes from factcheck.org. I generally trust this site because, in my judgment at least, they seem to be very even handed in their analysis,* they cite their sources, and go into detail as to how they arrive at their conclusions. This video provides an overview of the misleading statements made in Denver and in St. Paul; the website goes into more detail about these statements complete with sources.

(If the video fails to play, click here to watch)

A few observations:

This b.s. about “giving tax breaks to Big Oil companies” is maddening. Businesses, whether large or small, should neither pay taxes nor be subsidized. Businesses only pay taxes on paper; taxes are passed down to employees in the form of lower wages and higher prices for consumers. Why do we assume that the money that companies or individuals make belong to the government in the first place? If McBama was truly interested in creating jobs, reducing the price of groceries and gas, and improving the overall economy,** he would eliminate taxes and subsidies for all businesses. This would encourage businesses to bring jobs back to America rather than leaving America to escape the tax code. If the practice of subsidizing failing businesses ended, companies would have to survive by producing goods and services people actually want. Now that’s the “change” that I believe in!

Mike Huckabee. What can I say? As bad of a choice as John McCain is for the Republican ticket, the Republicans would have done much worse with Huckabee. Either Gov. Huckabee is insanely bad at math or he deliberately lied to the G.O.P. delegates and the country about Sarah Palin receiving more votes as Mayor than Joe Biden did in the Democrat primaries. Did he really think that no one would check? Did he really think that he was helping the McCain campaign?

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The Nanny State Invades The Front Stoop

The latest battle in the war against the nanny state is being fought by a guy in Brooklyn, New York who just wants to drink a beer on his front stoop on a hot summer night:

Kimber VanRy was sitting on his stoop in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn, drinking a beer and sending e-mail messages on his BlackBerry, when a police car slowed to a stop on the street in front of him.

It had been a pleasant evening for Mr. VanRy, 39, who lives in a four-story, 20-unit co-op building with his wife and two children. He had watched Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s speech at the Democratic convention on television, helped put his sons to bed and washed the dishes.

The time was 11:52 p.m., the date was Aug. 27, and the beer, for the record, was a 12-ounce bottle of Sierra Nevada.

The police officer in the driver’s seat said something to Mr. VanRy. He left the stoop, walked to the car and, several minutes later, was handed a small pink slip — a $25 summons for drinking in public.

And, as is usually the case in situations like this, the law under which VanRy was charged is sufficiently vague to allow police officers to use wide discretion in deciding whether to apply it:

The city’s open-container law prohibits anyone from drinking an alcoholic beverage, or possessing and intending to drink from an open container containing an alcoholic beverage, “in any public place.” The law defines a public place as one “to which the public or a substantial group of persons has access, including, but not limited to,” a sidewalk, street or park.

(…)

Steve Wasserman, a lawyer with the criminal practice of the Legal Aid Society, questioned the wording of the law, adding that legal arguments could be made that a stoop is not a place that a “substantial group of persons” can gain access to.

“This is an open question,” he said of the law. “There’s also a larger constitutional question, if a piece of your private property were being treated as if it were a public place. You couldn’t get arrested for drinking that beer in your kitchen. Now you’re sitting on your stoop. The stoop may be more like your kitchen than your sidewalk.”

Now, admittedly, Mr. VanRy’s predicament isn’t the most important issue in the world, but if you can’t sit on your front stoop and have a drink at night, then what can you do ?

Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae: Just The Beginning

Now that the Treasury Department has rescued Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to the tune of $ 200 billion, it’s not surprising that other industries might be lining up for their chance at the federal trough.

First in line; the Big Three automakers:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Auto industry allies hope to secure up to $50 billion in federal t loans this month to modernize plants and help struggling car makers build more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Congress returns this coming week from its summer break, and the auto industry plans an aggressive lobbying campaign for the low-interest loans.

The situation is growing dire after months of tumbling sales, high gasoline prices and consumers’ abandoning profitable trucks and sport utility vehicles.

Lawmakers authorized $25 billion in loans in last year’s energy bill, and automakers now want lawmakers to expand the pool of money available to $50 billion over three years.

Isn’t this what private credit markets are supposed to be for ?

H/T: Coyote Blog

The Bush Administration Embraces Socialism

Late yesterday, the Treasury Department announced what may well qualify as the biggest Federal bailout of a private company in history:

The government seized control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac yesterday in a dramatic bid to restore faith in the embattled mortgage giants and arrest a vicious cycle that has driven the nation’s economy into a steep downturn.

Following weeks of round-the-clock planning, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. announced the takeover to try to stabilize the deeply troubled housing and financial markets. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, with a combined 11,000 employees, have funded more than two-thirds of U.S. home loans in recent months, and doubts over their ability to continue doing so had threatened to immerse the economy into even more turmoil.

With home loans harder to come by, buyers have recently been unable to make purchases, causing the housing market to tank further, leaving banks and other lenders with huge losses. Those losses, in turn, have made loans even harder to get.

“Our economy will not recover until the bulk of this housing correction is behind us,” Paulson said yesterday. “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are critical to turning the corner on housing.”

They are, in other words, “too big too fail,” and thus entitled to a taxpayer bailout that makes the 1979 Chrysler bailout look like chump change by comparison:

There is no guarantee that the takeover will work, and it comes at a potentially massive cost to taxpayers. The government has pledged to inject money in the companies in any quarter in which they would otherwise be insolvent — up to $100 billion in total for each company.

While, the stock market seems to be reacting positively to news of the bailout, there is plenty of cause for concern.

For one thing, as the WaPo’s Steven Pearlstein notes, the bailout, while not unprecedented, represents a dramatic change in the nature of the government’s involvement in the economy:

In wresting control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and in authorizing the Treasury to begin purchases of mortgage-backed securities, Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. has taken responsibility for assuring that low-interest loans will continue to flow into the country’s hard-hit housing markets. Not since the early days of the Roosevelt administration, at the depth of the Great Depression, has the government taken such a direct role in the workings of the financial system.

And, as The Cato Institute’s David Boaz makes clear, this could only be the beginning:

[T]he bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is another giant step toward government control of the economy. NPR reported this morning that the government takeover “could turn out to be a smart one.” Yes, if you think nationalization of the means of production just might work. The government is writing a blank check on the taxpayers. It might cost nothing, it might cost $25 billion, it might end up costing trillions of dollars, given the size of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s portfolios and the risk of further large declines in housing prices.

Boaz also leads one to ask a very good question — where in Article II of the Constitution does it even authorize the President, via the Secretary of the Treasury, to do this ?

[S]peaking of the imperial presidency–all these huge new powers and expenditures are being conducted without any sanction from Congress and with little public debate. This isn’t Venezuela, but the executive branch is certainly expanding its powers on its own authority.

But the quote of the day goes to financial commentator Jim Rogers, who noted that this takeover effectively means that the United States is now more socialist than supposedly Communist China:

Rogers is right.

H/T: Club For Growth

Freedom Not Invited To The Party

Reason Magazine’s Steve Chapman reviews the recently concluded Democratic and Republican Conventions and notes that there was one thing missing from both; liberty:

So what was missing? Only what used to be held up as the central ideal of the party. The heirs of Goldwater couldn’t spare a day for freedom.

Neither could the Democrats. Their daily topics this year were “One Nation,” “Renewing America’s Promise,” and “Securing America’s Future.” The party proclaimed “an agenda that emphasizes the security of our nation, strong economic growth, affordable health care for all Americans, retirement security, honest government, and civil rights.” Expanding and upholding individual liberty? Not so much.

Forty-four years after Goldwater’s declaration, it’s clear that collectivism, not individualism, is the reigning creed of Republicans as well as Democrats. Individuals are not valuable and precious in their own right but as a means for those in power to achieve their grand ambitions.

You will scour the presidential nominees’ acceptance speeches in vain for any hint that your life is rightfully your own, to be lived in accordance with your beliefs and desires and no one else’s. The Founding Fathers set out to protect “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but Barack Obama has a different idea.

The “essence of America’s promise,” he declared in Denver, is “individual responsibility and mutual responsibility”—rather than, say, individual freedom and mutual respect for rights. The “promise of America,” he said, is “the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.”

(…)

What do Republicans believe in? McCain told us Thursday: “We believe in a strong defense, work, faith, service, a culture of life, personal responsibility, the rule of law…. We believe in the values of families, neighborhoods and communities.”

Would it be too much to mention that what sustains the American vision of those things is freedom? That without it, personal responsibility becomes hollow and service is servitude?

Apparently, for both parties it would. John McCain’s campaign slogan during the convention was “Country First,” not “Freedom First”, heck not even “Family First.” The unstated assumption one draws from such a slogan is that loyalty to country, and the willingness to sacrifice oneself to the same must come before everything else, including, when necessary, your own freedom.

The Democrats aren’t any better, of course; it was Barack Obama who said in his acceptance speech:

In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is — you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps — even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own.

Because, in Barack Obama’s world and the world in which most of his supporters seem to live, the idea that people can do better on their own than they can with the help of a supposedly benevolent state is completely foreign. They reject it not because they don’t think it works, they reject it because they can’t conceive of the idea that individuals are better suited to make decisions for themselves than the educated and elite bureaucrats who supposedly know what is good for the masses.

It wouldn’t have mattered which convention he watched over the past two weeks because, in either case, Barry Goldwater was most assuredly spinning in his grave.

Cross-Posted at Below The Beltway

Maybe They Should Call It ‘The Cheese-Maker’

No matter how jaded I get, American “Christians” seem to come up with new ways to make me aghast. The latest CINO (Christian in Name Only) is Sheriff Lott, who is prepared to use a 50 machine gun to keep law and order in what I thought to be the relatively unwarlike Richland County of South Carolina.

When I first read that Sheriff Lott named his 50 cal machinegun “The Peace Maker” I was instantly reminded of Tacitus’ tale about the Roman conquest of Britain, specifically the words a Scottish chieftain spoke on the last morning of his life:

We, the most distant dwellers upon the earth, the last of the free, have been shielded until now by our remoteness and by the obscurity which has shrouded our name. Now, the farthest bounds of Britain lie open to our enemies. There are no more nations beyond us ­ only waves, and rocks, and the Romans. Pillagers of the world, they have exhausted the land by their indiscriminate plunder. East and west alike have failed to satisfy them. To robbery, butchery and rapine, they give the lying name “government”. They create a desert and call it peace. Which will you choose ­ to follow me into battle, or to submit to taxation, labour in the mines and all the other tribulations of slavery? Whether you are to endure these forever or take a quick revenge, this battle must decide.”

It turns out, however that Sherrif Lott had a different speech in mind when he selected the name::

Sheriff Leon Lott extended his appreciation to the citizens of Richland County and to the State Paper for their contributions in naming the APC (the State held an online search to garner public assistance on naming the APC). The purpose in obtaining this equipment is the protection of life and our protection of our communities – that the mere presence of the APC will prevent loss of life or injury to any and all citizens. Sheriff Lott stated that the name selected from the entries will be “The Peacemaker” because that is the APC’s purpose and the bible refers to law enforcement in Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”. Sheriff Lott hopes to always bring resolution to all conflict through peaceful means.

Since Sheriff Lott wasn’t stuck in the back of the crowd when Jesus gave his sermon, I can only conclude that he neglected to actually read the sermon he quotes from:

When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’
But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.’
But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.’
But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Using a speech in which a prophet called for people to love their enemies as the basis for calling a weapon designed to kill people wholesale “The Peace Keeper” is positively blasphemous.

See my other post on Libertarian reaction to The Peace Keeper, here.

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

Aren’t Libertarians Being a Bit Hypocritical and Hoplophobic?

One custom that gang members enjoy is posing with weapons. I suppose that the pictures serve a purpose of both reassuring members of the gang about their power to hurt people while acting to intimidate not only the innocent people the gang prays upon, but also rival gangs.

Gangbangers From Richland County Strike Threatening Poses With Their Weapons

Gangbangers From Richland County Strike Threatening Poses With Their Weapons

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department has produced one such picture, showing an armored vehicle with a.50 cal machine gun mounted on it, while members of the gang’s most violent gunmen pose with semi-automatic rifles and body armor in threatening poses. Given the comparative peace and cooperation that the Richland County Sheriff’s Department has with the gangs that dominate neighboring counties, it is clear that the purpose of this weapon is not to defend itself against rival gangs like the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Department.

By process of elimination we can guess that the primary purpose of this weapon is to threaten either innocent people residing in the county, or small gangs that have moved into niches opened by the Richland County Sheriff’s religious war on intoxicants, dog-fighting, prostitution and the like.

Libertarian Reaction

Many libertarians are outraged; they point out that a weapon which is impossible to aim accurately – you start firing and walk the bullets in – whose bullets will go through concrete walls and still have a lethal amount of kinetic energy is absolutely incompatible with modern policing theory. They are, to a point, correct; under the theory of modern policing, police are supposed to use the minimum amount of force required to protect lives and property, and that force is supposed to be narrowly focused only on targets that require it.

OK For Private Citizens, But Not Government Officials?

However, many of these libertarians are also opposed to the government attempts to outlaw private ownership of .50 cal rifles, which pack a similar punch. The legitimate uses for a weapon are:
1) Target practice for sport
2) Hunting non-sentient prey
3) defensive violence against sentient aggressors

The .50 cal rifle, being almost worthless for hunting (blowing a part your prey leaves very little cookable meat), overkill for self defense, and providing just as much sport as a smaller gun when it comes to plinking away at targets, is similarly inappropriate for the regular citizenry.

Why The Double Standard?

If we are to defend the individual’s right to own and play with such a monstrous weapon as a .50 cal rifle, shouldn’t we extend the same courtesy to someone who happens to be a policeman? Why can we trust a guy insane enough to buy a .50 cal rifle at a cost of I don’t know how many tens of thousands of dollars while not trusting a guy who happens to join a police force?

Private Citizens Face Consequences – Police Get Away With Murder

The answer of course is that the private citizen is far less likely to misuse their weapon than a policeman. This is manifest from the double standard that exists when policemen unlawfully shoot someone as compared to when a private citizen unlawfully shoots someone. In fact, one can contrast the double standard that exists when in an armed confrontation with police when a policeman unlawfully shoots someone with what happens when a private citizen shoot a policeman lawfully.

There have been many instances when policemen have stormed a property without a warrant or if they have a warrant without divulging to the property owner that they had a warrant or even that they were police. Furthermore, a significant portion of those raids have been on the property of people who had no reason to expect a police raid of any kind, seeing as they had no involvement with illegal drug trade. In a subset of the latter group of raids, gunfire has erupted between the people on the property who thought they were being attacked by a criminal gang unaffiliated with the police and the police themselves. Regardless of who fires first, regardless of who initiates the fighting or how quickly the residents surrender, the outcome is almost always the same: A police man who shoots someone unlawfully will be exonerated of criminal wrong-doing while the homeowner who shoots a policeman lawfully will generally face capital murder charges.

The most a policeman has to fear is that they may lose their job. They rarely face prison time, and that only in cases where the shooting is so vile, such as gunning down an octogenarian grandmother in her bed and leaving her to bleed to death, that the police face a revolt by the citizenry.  This is true even in situations where they only weapons brandished were in the hands of the police, where the only shots fired where shots out of guns in policemen’s hands, where the only people shot were women and children cowering on the floor.  In effect, the police can be assured they will face no prosecution.

Contrast this with cases where residents have resisted until they discovered they were facing police armed with a warrant, and then cooperated. If they have killed a policeman, as did Cory Maye, they can face a capital murder charge. If they merely fire back without hitting anything, they usually face attempted murder charges and aggravated assault charges. They will do jail time.

Absent any mechanism for holding “law enforcement” equally liable as the private citizenry for the people they kill or injure, stringently limiting the types of weapons police may possess does seem to make sense.

What About That Endangered Creature – The Law Abiding, Decent, Policeman?

However, we should not sacrifice the principle that people should be able to legitimately own the weapons they feel they need to protect themselves and their property merely because we are prejudiced against them. While many policemen are people who want to predate on their neighbors, but decide to select a safer, if less lucrative, form of criminal activity than joining the mafia or MS-13, there are many decent people who chose to join the police because they wish to be a force for good, and want to protect lives and property. Given the territorial monopoly that the gangs of police hold, any person who finds murder abhorrent and decides to dedicate his or her life to bringing murderers to account for their crimes and to deter would-be murderers from committing future murders will have to join some gang of police to practice their avocation. Should we disarm and condemn them because they took the only avenue open to them to accomplish their honorable purpose? I say no!

Gun Control Is Not The Answer – Ending Police Immunity To Prosecution Is

While we can guess that the Richland County SWAT team will injure or kill innocent people should they decide to fire that weapon as part of their duties, we don’t know that they will. All we can do is react to the crimes they commit, not sanction them prejudicially for the crimes we fear they might commit in the future. Applying the same laws to the SWAT team (or any other policeman) that are applied to the Brinks Armored Car guard would go a long way to eradicating abuses, and would do much to ensure that the weapon sat gathering cobwebs in some garage somewhere.

My thoughts about the name for the machine gun may be found here.

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

What About McCain’s Legislative “Accomplishments” ?

We’ve heard a lot this week about Barack Obama’s lack of experience, Sarah Palin’s supposed experience, and John McCain’s military experience.

As Reason Magazine’s Matt Welch notes, however, we haven’t heard much about the legislative accomplishments of the GOP’s nominee, mostly because they encompass things that Republicans would be embarressed to mention:

1,2,3 Set’em Up, and Knock’em Down

So, last night I watched, in succession (through the wonder of teh intartubes) the RNC speeches from Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, and Sarah Palin.

Folks, there has not been a better slate of political speeches in my lifetime. Oh sure, Romney, Huckabee, and Lieberman were in the mix; but their contributions were meaningless and everyone (including them) knew it.

The setup was the 1,2,3.

Fred built the stage:

Rudy warmed up the crowd:

And Sarah knocked’em dead in the aisles:

Whatever you think of the current Republican ticket (or the Republican party in general), you have to acknowledge that this is the single greatest act of political speechmaking since Kennedy; possibly since Churchill at Westminster.

… of course the fact that this is so is sad; given that it was primarily an anti-obama stump set, and the greatest of political speeches should be building things up, not tearing people down… but sometimes a man NEEDS to be torn down… or rather the inflated funhouse mirror image of a man.

Still, I believe it remains the single greatest act of politicial speechmaking in decades.

I say single act, because the three speeches really must (and clearly were intended to be) be taken together to get the full and coordinated impact. Yes, each speech stands as a solid construction on it’s own; but it’s the combination that really achieves the goal.

You can see it in the desperation, and the froth and spittle, and the feces flinging on the left. Shortly, you’ll be seeing it in the poll results… if the left will ever let an honest poll seep into the public perception.

Obamas support has clearly peaked. He’s got all the voters he’s ever going to get… and in fact if the sociology of polling proves true in this case as it has so many times before, even the support he supposedly DOES have may be between 10% and 25% less than reported.

McCain on the other hand keeps gaining support; and the actions and choices of his campaign are just solidifying that.

McCains biggest problem isn’t Obama; it’s the fact that the people who elected George W. Bush twice, mostly don’t much care for McCain. Of course they also mostly don’t care much for Bush anymore, but that’s another issue entirely. Bush has shown that he is not acting in their interests and according to their principles; or that when he is, he is doing so incompetent… but those principles haven’t changed, and those people want someone to represent them.

McCain has the support of the center right, and even much of the center left; that has never been his problem. His problem has been on the right. Up until now, the voters on the right have not believed that a McCain administration would represent them properly.

As of now, problem solved.

Sarah Palin, going on the offensive, these speeches, the choices the Obama campaign is making… McCain has finally got the right behind him.

The only issue I see, is that after this, there is no way McCains speech won’t be a let down.

If McCain manages to pull his off right (short, humble, quiet, dignified but maybe a little angry…), barring major disaster, he’s won the election.

The Republicans have taken the initiative from the democrats. They’ve forced them to react, and are continuing to keep them reacting. They’ve forced them to go to depths of filth that repulse the American people.

Frankly, the Republicans have pushed the left over the edge, and are laughing as the deranged and deluded, fall screaming to their defeat.

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

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

Sarah Palin Is A Bona-Fide Conservative

First, let’s get it right out there. She’s definitely got the same sort of “star” quality that you get from a guy like Obama. It has nothing to do with policy, or politics, but there’s something about the story that is compelling. By Friday evening my wife– who is not a politico in any sense of the word; more a follower of the cult of celebrity– wanted to vote for her!

She’s what you expect must be most Republican mens’ wet dream. She’s attractive, dignified, but with a bit of that Alaskan rough edge about her. She’s got the family woman credentials down pat, but her history of being hardnose in office suggests that she’s got gravitas to go along with it. And all that while retaining the femininity and charm that a certain Democrat lacks. And she’s a heck of a lot hotter than Elizabeth Dole.

She could conceivably do everything that McCain expects, wooing all the right voters and actually giving him a chance in this election. So let’s get down to the brass tacks here…

Policy-wise, she’s got most of the major conservative credentials to attract the conservatives that McCain doesn’t jive with, but without having the “Beltway Insider” image of Biden.

She has a reputation for fiscal conservatism and standing up to corruption, which has already been attacked by my fellow contributors, but which I think is far better than those attacks would suggest. She seems to be a pretty adept politician, so when the Bridge to Nowhere appeared, she got out ahead of it. When Stevens was starting to stink, she realized that she wouldn’t want to stand close enough to pick up the stench. Does that mean she’s a ruthless opponent of pork and corruption? No, it means that she understands politics well enough to realize that rank and file Republicans are sick and tired of the game as the Party has been playing it, and she’s willing to change to meet the changing conditions. That’s a plus.

Just as important for a running mate of McCain, she’s solidly a social conservative. Pro-life, pro-gun, pro-God, pro-drug-war, anti-gay-marriage. Pro-military, with a son about to head to Iraq. Pro-family, raising a Down’s Syndrome child and supporting her daughter who is going through her own troubles as a pregnant teenager (oddly a positive for a Republican?). Her foreign policy positions are a bit of an unknown, but nobody is expecting the VP to set foreign policy. She hits all the policy positions that need to be hit from the evangelicals who are not enamored with McCain.

But there’s a problem. Everything I’ve said so far is from the standpoint of a conservative. I’m not a conservative, I’m a libertarian.

From the standpoint of a libertarian, the story is a bit different. My first paragraph above on her policy, with regards to spending and corruption, is acceptable. From her record it appears that it’s more of a pragmatic approach than a principled approach, but I could conceive holding my nose and voting for a pragmatist if they were on the right side of the issues. But from a social standpoint, I disagree with her on most of her conservative viewpoints. She is the type that I could easily supporting things like Bush’s faith-based charity initiatives, although perhaps a bit less kooky than a guy like Huckabee. As a VP (or potentially a President, if McCain’s health falters), I doubt many of her social positions would actually make their way through congress, but I’d hate to see her follow the “compassionate conservative”– read big welfare spender– approach of Bush.

Sarah Palin appears to be a bona-fide conservative Republican, and is conservative in many of the ways that John McCain is not. Those who are looking for a conservative Republican must be pleased. But to a libertarian, she’s at best a mixed bag. There were a lot of choices that would be far worse from a libertarian standpoint (he could have nominated Huckabee!), so I think it’s mildly a positive result. But it’s not quite enough to make me giddy, or to jump out and pull the lever for McCain/Palin in ’08.

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