Monthly Archives: November 2009

To The Veterans And Those Potential Veterans Who Serve

There are a lot of debates one can have about the military. One can ask, as the founding fathers might, whether it be necessary to have a standing army at all. One can ask, as a non-interventionist might, whether it is worth spending American lives on non-essential tasks. One can ask whether our military is used wisely, used justly, and whether its soldiers are acting in the furtherance of societal good or a president’s whim. These questions have been asked and debated here, and rightly so. But not today.

I have the most profound respect for someone who says “here is what I believe and who I am — I will serve my countrymen and pledge to back that up with my life if it is necessary.” It’s one of those traits that I’d like to hope I possess, but one in civilian life, in the peaceful little enclave I raise my family, can never be truly sure. But those who choose the life of a soldier don’t need to question themselves. They’ve already signed up to be the tip of the spear. They’ve sworn an oath and joined an organization and command structure to carry out a mission. Some are never called on to perform the task they train for, but they’ve still earned my respect by offering to shoulder that burden. Others, however, are given that calling, and we call them Veterans. Today is the day to thank them for living up to the convictions they’ve pledged themselves to.

On this particular day, however, I think of one veteran in particular. Thanks, well wishes, and a great deal of concern go out to Major Jeff Warbiany, marine aviator, veteran of the first Gulf War and in theater for a good portion of the second, currently on float on a boat somewhere in the South Pacific. Jeff is my brother, and while one might think that his choice to serve shows him to be the hoo-rah counterpoint to every way that I’m a radical libertarian, he matches me nearly stride for stride in political belief. He understands what he’s doing, and even when he might disagree with the political calculations that have him deployed and away from his wife and son, he knows that he has a job to do and will do it to the utmost of his abilities for his brothers in arms and for those of us here at home. I’d much rather he be home safe right now, and that the two of us were discussing the evils of the Federal Reserve over a beer and a cigar, but since that’s not possible, all I can say is thank you and come home soon, bro.

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Liberty Rock Veteran’s Day Edition: “Citizen / Soldier” by 3 Doors Down

The video that accompanies the song is simply too powerful to merely post the lyrics (below the fold) of the 3 Doors Down song “Citizen Soldier.” If you know a veteran, share this with them and tell them “thank you” for their service as citizen soldiers.


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The Soldier Pays the Biggest Part of the Bill: an Excerpt from a Speech by Maj Gen Smedley Butler, USMC

Excerpt from War is a Racket by Major General Smedley Butler USMC

[The] soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.

If you don’t believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit any of the veteran’s hospitals in the United States. On a tour of the country, in the midst of which I am at the time of this writing, I have visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans. In them are a total of about 50,000 destroyed men — men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago. The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital; at Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the living dead, told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed at home.

Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to “about face”; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed.

Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another “about face” ! This time they had to do their own readjustment, sans [without] mass psychology, sans officers’ aid and advice and sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn’t need them any more. So we scattered them about without any “three-minute” or “Liberty Loan” speeches or parades. Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final “about face” alone.

In the government hospital in Marion, Indiana, 1,800 of these boys are in pens! Five hundred of them in a barracks with steel bars and wires all around outside the buildings and on the porches. These already have been mentally destroyed. These boys don’t even look like human beings. Oh, the looks on their faces! Physically, they are in good shape; mentally, they are gone.

There are thousands and thousands of these cases, and more and more are coming in all the time. The tremendous excitement of the war, the sudden cutting off of that excitement — the young boys couldn’t stand it.

That’s a part of the bill. So much for the dead — they have paid their part of the war profits. So much for the mentally and physically wounded — they are paying now their share of the war profits. But the others paid, too — they paid with heartbreaks when they tore themselves away from their firesides and their families to don the uniform of Uncle Sam — on which a profit had been made. They paid another part in the training camps where they were regimented and drilled while others took their jobs and their places in the lives of their communities. The paid for it in the trenches where they shot and were shot; where they were hungry for days at a time; where they slept in the mud and the cold and in the rain — with the moans and shrieks of the dying for a horrible lullaby.
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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.

Thoughts On Veterans Day

veterans

As we mark Veterans Day here in the United States, it is worth remembering that, for the rest of the Western world, today marks the end of what may very well be the most pointless war in human history

The war in which millions of educated and working class men sacrificed their lives to fight over the remnants of a Europe that was still ruled by Hohenzollern’s, Hapsburg’s and Romanov’s —Middle Age Europe’s inbred contribution to insanity.

And what were they fighting over ? The same stupid battles that Europeans were fighting 100 years previously when Napoleon raged across the Russian frontier. Only this time, they were doing it with tanks, planes, and mustard gas.

It was massacre writ large and insanity on display for four long years — and it all started when some guy got shot in Sarajevo.

And yet, somehow, the boys of America ended up in the middle of this mess that the Royalists and Europeans has created. Rationally, there was no reason we should’ve been there and yet we were led by a man convinced that he could remake the world in America’s democratic image.

Sound familiar ?

That didn’t work out so well back then, as people unlucky enough to live in Europe in the 1930s and 40s can attest. Not to mention the men who the United States sent back to Europe in 1941.

So as we remember Veterans today, and thank them for their service, perhaps it’s time to think about how we can stop creating so many gardens of stone in so many corners of the world in the name of misplaced idealism.

Quote Of The Day

A [previously unpublished] letter to the editor in the UK Daily Telegraph:

SIR – I find it intensely humiliating to be asked by airport security staff if I have packed my own bag. This forces one to admit, usually within earshot of others, that I no longer have a manservant to do the chore for me. Gentlemen should be able to answer such questions with a disdainful: “Of course not! Do I look like that sort of person?”

Arthur W. J. G. Ord-Hume, Guildford, Surrey

I’m sure that will enjoin my colleagues in hearty guffaws when I relate it at the American Airlines Admiral’s Club on my next trip.

Hat Tip: Gulliver, The Economist

Pfizer Abandons Site Condemned In Infamous Kelo v. New London Case

In the annals of Supreme Court history, there are perhaps only a handful of cases that go down in history as more egregious than what happened in Suzette Kelo v. City of New London. In that case, the Supreme Court approved an eminent domain taking by the City of New London, Connecticut that involved taking the land of the principal plaintiff, and many others, and using it for a commercial development that would be used by Pfizer Corp. for a new corporate business center. It was a decision that was roundly and deservedly condemned at the time and which led to some efforts at eminent domain reform at the state level, many of which were successful.

But, in the end, Suzette Kelo still lost her property, and now, to add insult to injury, Pfizer has abandoned the project that was the subject of the eminent domain proceeding:

The private homes New London, Conn., took through eminent domain from Suzette Kelo and others, are torn down now, but Pfizer has just announced that it closing up shop at the research facility that led to the condemnation.

Leading drugmakers Pfizer and Wyeth have merged, and as a result, are trimming some jobs. That includes axing the 1,400 jobs at their sparkling new research & development facility in New London, and moving some across the river to Groton.

To lure those jobs to New London a decade ago, the local government promised to demolish the older residential neighborhood adjacent to the land Pfizer was buying for next-to-nothing. Suzette Kelo fought the taking to the Supreme Court, and lost, as five justices said this redvelopment met the constitutional hurdle of “public use.”

The private homes that New London, Conn., took away from Suzette Kelo and her neighbors have been torn down. Their former site is a wasteland of fields of weeds, a monument to the power of eminent domain.

But now Pfizer, the drug company whose neighboring research facility had been the original cause of the homes’ seizure, has just announced that it is closing up shop in New London.

Scott Bullock, Kelo’s co-counsel in the case, told me: “This shows the folly of these redvelopment projects that use massive taxpayer subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare and abuse eminent domain.”

One wonders if Suzette Kelo is paraphrasing former Labor Secretary Ray Donovan and wondering, where do I go to get my house back ?

Twenty Years Ago Today

Berlin-Wall

The people of Germany are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the end of the division of their nation:

With prayers, music and pomp, Germany on Monday remembered the 20th anniversary of the day the Berlin Wall fell, sending East Germans flooding west and setting in motion events that soon led to the country’s reunification.

Chancellor Angela Merkel — reunited Germany’s first leader to grow up in the communist east — started the day with President Horst Koehler and other leaders at a prayer service at a former East Berlin church that was a rallying point for opposition activists in 1989.

“We remember the tears of joy, the faces of delight, the liberation,” Lutheran Bishop Wolfgang Huber told the congregation at the Gethsemane Church.

East Germany’s fortified border crumbled on the evening of Nov. 9, 1989 after 28 years holding in the country’s citizens — a pivotal moment in the collapse of communism in Europe that followed a confused announcement by a senior official.

We aren’t that far away from the day when the Berlin Wall will have been down longer than it was up, and that’s a day to look forward to.

This video does a great story of telling the story of how this happened:

And this ABC retrospective looks at how the fall of the Wall ignited a fire across Eastern Europe:

And, while we’re at it, let’s not forget the role this guy played in the events that brought about the collapse of what really was an evil empire:

Will The Supreme Court Finally Start Reining In The Necessary And Proper Clause ?

One of the most pernicious clauses of the Constitution that has, through creative interpretation led to an expansion of the power of the Federal Government far beyond where it was intended is the Necessary and Proper Clause, which sits at the end of Article I, Section 8 and states as follows:

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

When James Madison wrote about the clause in Federalist No. 44, it was clear that the Founders viewed the clause as merely granting Congress the authority it needed to carry out the powers set forth in remainder of Section 8:

The remaining particulars of this clause fall within reasonings which are either so obvious, or have been so fully developed, that they may be passed over without remark. The SIXTH and last class consists of the several powers and provisions by which efficacy is given to all the rest. 1. Of these the first is, the “power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof. “Few parts of the Constitution have been assailed with more intemperance than this; yet on a fair investigation of it, no part can appear more completely invulnerable. Without the SUBSTANCE of this power, the whole Constitution would be a dead letter.\

(…)

If it be asked what is to be the consequence, in case the Congress shall misconstrue this part of the Constitution, and exercise powers not warranted by its true meaning, I answer, the same as if they should misconstrue or enlarge any other power vested in them; as if the general power had been reduced to particulars, and any one of these were to be violated; the same, in short, as if the State legislatures should violate the irrespective constitutional authorities. In the first instance, the success of the usurpation will depend on the executive and judiciary departments, which are to expound and give effect to the legislative acts; and in the last resort a remedy must be obtained from the people who can, by the election of more faithful representatives, annul the acts of the usurpers.

The reality of just how flexible the clause was, though, became apparent only thirty-one years later when the Supreme Court handed down it’s decision in McCullouch v. Maryland:

McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819), was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. The state of Maryland had attempted to impede operation of a branch of the Second Bank of the United States by imposing a tax on all notes of banks not chartered in Maryland. Though the law, by its language, was generally applicable, the U.S. Bank was the only out-of-state bank then existing in Maryland, and the law is generally recognized as having specifically targeted the U.S. Bank. The Court invoked the Necessary and Proper Clause in the Constitution, which allowed the Federal government to pass laws not expressly provided for in the Constitution’s list of express powers as long as those laws are in useful furtherance of the express powers.

This fundamental case established the following two principles:

  1. The Constitution grants to Congress implied powers for implementing the Constitution’s express powers, in order to create a functional national government.
  2. State action may not impede valid constitutional exercises of power by the Federal government.

The opinion was written by Chief Justice John Marshall.

It was the first example of a Constitutional clause being used to read into the Constitution increased powers for Congress beyond those set forth in the text of the document, and it wouldn’t be the last.

Now, it appears that the Supreme Court may have the opportunity to rein in the damage the McCulloch did:

In 2006, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. One provision of the law authorizes the federal government to civilly commit anyone in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons whom the attorney general certifies to be “sexually dangerous.” The effect of such an action is to continue the certified person’s confinement after the expiration of his prison term, without proof of a new criminal violation.

Six days before the scheduled release of Graydon Comstock — who had been sentenced to 37 months in jail for receiving child pornography — the attorney general certified Comstock as sexually dangerous. Three years later, Comstock thus remains confined in a medium security prison, as do more than 60 other similarly situated men in the Eastern District of North Carolina alone.

Comstock and several others challenged their confinements as going beyond Congress’s constitutional authority and won in both the district and appellate courts. The United States successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case.

Cato, joined by Georgetown law professor (and Cato senior fellow) Randy Barnett, filed a brief opposing the government. We argue that the use of federal power here is unconstitutional because it is not tied to any of Congress’s limited and enumerated powers. The government’s reliance on the Necessary and Proper Clause of Article I, Section 8, is misplaced because that clause grants no independent power but merely “carries into execution” the powers enumerated elsewhere in that section. The commitment of prisoners after their terms simply is not one of the enumerated powers.

While the government justifies its actions by invoking its implied power “to establish a federal penal system” — itself a necessary and proper auxiliary to certain enumerated powers — civil commitment is unrelated to creating or maintaining a penal system (let alone any enumerated power). Nor can the law at issue fall under the Commerce Clause, because civil commitment involves non-economic intrastate activity.

Here’ s hoping that the Court takes this one, admittedly small, step toward reining in an out-of-control Federal Government.

On promises made and broken

In the lead up to the vote on H.R. 3962, the “Affordable Health Care for America” Act (scare quotes intentional), Barack Obama offered this encouragement to legislators to vote for the bill:

“This is their moment, this is our moment, to live up to the trust that the American people have placed in us,” Obama told reporters in the White House rose garden. “Even when it’s hard, especially when it’s hard, this is our moment to deliver.”

Two-hundred and fifteen did live up to the trust we placed in them, while two-hundred and twenty failed to do the same. How exactly is that trust defined? In the oath of office taken by each and every United States Representative:

“I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Each and every Representative took a solemn oath to “bear true faith and allegiance” to the Constitution. Each and every Representative who affirmed the House health care bill, with its threats of fines and prison for not buying “government-approved” health insurance, has forsaken that oath. The mandates contained in the Pelosi bill are a kludge, a poor attempt to graft a clearly unconstitutional power such as this on to the enumerated powers of the commerce clause and taxation.

To attempt such a thing, one cannot bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution. At best, those who attempted this hold the Constitution in the same regard that the 17-year-old script kiddie in his parents’ basement has for security measures–both are interesting challenges that require interesting solutions. At worst, they hold the Constitution in contempt and are actively working to debase the very core of the social contract between the government and the people.

In either case, it is now our turn as patriots to remind our Representatives that while they do not hold themselves to their oaths and promises, we do. In a little less than a year from now, voting booths across this great land will open again, and one of 435 representatives will be seeking your affirmation. If your representative has forsaken his or her oath to the Constitution, withhold it. It’s not about party affiliations or common views, it’s about holding legislators accountable for the promises they make to us.

Do your duty as a patriot. Refuse to support legislators who vote to abuse the Constitution or the People of the United States.

The House values Control over Health Care

So it is done: 220-215. Two-hundred and twenty United States Representatives put their support behind 20 pounds and 2,000 pages of abusive legislation in the form of innumerable mandates enforced by 110 new government agencies.

One of those mandates, though, cuts so violently to the core of our freedoms that it cannot go unanswered: Buy insurance or face the wrath of the IRS. From Representative Dave Camp:

Today, Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) released a letter from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirming that the failure to comply with the individual mandate to buy health insurance contained in the Pelosi health care bill (H.R. 3962, as amended) could land people in jail. The JCT letter makes clear that Americans who do not maintain “acceptable health insurance coverage” and who choose not to pay the bill’s new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

Imagine being faced with the loss of a job. That is a rough event for anyone to go through. Now, under the Pelosi/Obama plan, you have the following choice: Buy insurance you likely can’t afford with far less income coming in, pay 2.5% of the income you do have coming in to the government for *nothing*, or go to jail.

That choice has no place in a bill about reforming our broken health care system. That choice is about criminalizing people for not behaving as the self-styled ruling class wishes them to. When it comes to undocumented immigrants, Democrats love to say that “no one is illegal”. When it comes to economic diversity, they tell us that those who will not be controlled are illegal.

The media says this is a bill about health care. So do the Democrats. They lie. This is a bill about control. The bill’s proponents want to control you. Whether or not you actually get health care is irrelevant.

Update: Coyote Blog links to a WSJ article detailing some of the high (low?) points of the legislation. Here’s what you must do under the Pelosi/Obama plan:

• Sec. 202 (p. 91-92) of the bill requires you to enroll in a “qualified plan.” If you get your insurance at work, your employer will have a “grace period” to switch you to a “qualified plan,” meaning a plan designed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. If you buy your own insurance, there’s no grace period. You’ll have to enroll in a qualified plan as soon as any term in your contract changes, such as the co-pay, deductible or benefit.

• Sec. 224 (p. 118) provides that 18 months after the bill becomes law, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will decide what a “qualified plan” covers and how much you’ll be legally required to pay for it. That’s like a banker telling you to sign the loan agreement now, then filling in the interest rate and repayment terms 18 months later.

On Nov. 2, the Congressional Budget Office estimated what the plans will likely cost. An individual earning $44,000 before taxes who purchases his own insurance will have to pay a $5,300 premium and an estimated $2,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, for a total of $7,300 a year, which is 17% of his pre-tax income. A family earning $102,100 a year before taxes will have to pay a $15,000 premium plus an estimated $5,300 out-of-pocket, for a $20,300 total, or 20% of its pre-tax income. Individuals and families earning less than these amounts will be eligible for subsidies paid directly to their insurer.

• Sec. 303 (pp. 167-168) makes it clear that, although the “qualified plan” is not yet designed, it will be of the “one size fits all” variety. The bill claims to offer choice—basic, enhanced and premium levels—but the benefits are the same. Only the co-pays and deductibles differ. You will have to enroll in the same plan, whether the government is paying for it or you and your employer are footing the bill.

• Sec. 59b (pp. 297-299) says that when you file your taxes, you must include proof that you are in a qualified plan. If not, you will be fined thousands of dollars. Illegal immigrants are exempt from this requirement.

• Sec. 412 (p. 272) says that employers must provide a “qualified plan” for their employees and pay 72.5% of the cost, and a smaller share of family coverage, or incur an 8% payroll tax. Small businesses, with payrolls from $500,000 to $750,000, are fined less.

Think that’s bad? Go read the rest of it.

Update: Here’s a link to the roll call vote so you can see if your Representative is one of the 220 who wants to control you.

ACTION ALERT: Put The Stake in Obamacare

Well the good news is that the Democrats are saying they don’t have the votes. Probably one of the reasons why they don’t have the votes is because people are finding all about what’s in HR 3962.

They’re objecting to:

  • Higher taxes on individuals and businesses which will drive up unemployment
  • Government dictating what’s in their healthcare plan
  • Government unconstitutionally requiring consumers purchase health insurance or face fines and/or jailtime
  • The creation of a government run healthcare plan which will eventually take over the entire healthcare system
  • The creation of over 110 new bureaucracies
  • The outlawing of any health insurance policy not purchased through the government’s new “exchange”
  • The new unfunded liabilities for state and local governments which will result in higher taxes on the local and state levels

So lets get out the sharpest stake we can find and drive it through the heart of the vampire known as Obamacare and kill it until 2011 at the earliest. Get on the phone and call your Congressman or e-mail them if you have not done so and tell them to vote NO on HR 3962. If you don’t know who your Congressman is, follow the link and type in your zip code.

Also, please call everyone you know, post on your Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter pages; and post on your personal blogs, Live Journals, whatever and tell your friends and readers to also call their Congressmen and tell them vote NO on HR 3962. The Obama Administration and the Democratic House leadership will be calling your Congressman to vote for their government run health care scheme, will you call and tell your Congressman to stand for freedom?

The next 24 hours are critical in defeating government run health care and together we can and will defeat it.

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

Good News On Health Care Reform: They Don’t Have The Votes Yet

This is a good sign:

WASHINGTON – A House leader says Democrats haven’t yet lined up enough votes to pass their health care overhaul bill.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland says the vote that House Democrats had scheduled for Saturday could slip to Sunday or early next week.

Hoyer acknowledged to reporters Friday that Democratic leaders don’t yet have the 218 votes needed to pass President Barack Obama’s historic health overhaul initiative.

Let’s make sure they never get those votes.

Liberty Rock Friday: “Land of Confusion” by Genesis

I’m actually surprised that it hasn’t occurred to me to post “Land of Confusion” for Liberty Rock sooner. This is a great song with a great message that seems perhaps even more appropriate now than its original 1986 release.

The song raises questions in my mind such as:

Who is ultimately responsible for this land (world) of confusion?

Is this confusion intentionally orchestrated by people in high positions of power or is this confusion the result of unintended consequences of government policies which passed with the best of intentions? (I tend to think it is a little of both).

Is this confusion inevitable due to our very humanity? (As long as there are individuals who wish to control the lives of others and wish to take from others by force and fraud, I can only conclude that the answer is “yes.”)

How can we, as in the words of the song, make this world “a place worth fighting for” ? (Do we really have any other choice?)

Below the fold, I also included both the Genesis music video and Disturbed’s cover version.

invisible touch
Genesis
“Land of Confusion”
Invisible Touch (1986)

Written by: Phil Collins, Tony Banks, and Michael Rutherford

I mustve dreamed a thousand dreams
Been haunted by a million screams
But I can hear the marching feet
They’re moving into the street.

Now did you read the news today
They say the dangers gone away
But I can see the fires still alight
There burning into the night.

There’s too many men
Too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Cant you see
This is a land of confusion.

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands were given
Use them and lets start trying
To make it a place worth living in.

Ooh superman where are you now
When everythings gone wrong somehow
The men of steel, the men of power
Are losing control by the hour.

This is the time
This is the place
So we look for the future
But there’s not much love to go round
Tell me why, this is a land of confusion.

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands were given
Use them and lets start trying
To make it a place worth living in.

I remember long ago –
Ooh when the sun was shining
Yes and the stars were bright
All through the night
And the sound of your laughter
As I held you tight
So long ago –

I wont be coming home tonight
My generation will put it right
Were not just making promises
That we know, well never keep.

Too many men
There’s too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Cant you see
This is a land of confusion.

Now this is the world we live in
And these are the hands were given
Use them and lets start trying
To make it a place worth fighting for.

This is the world we live in
And these are the names were given
Stand up and lets start showing
Just where our lives are going to.

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ACTION ALERT: Obamacare Set For Vote On Saturday

On Saturday at 6PM, the Democrats plan to bring Obamacare for a vote on the House floor. Obamacare contains:

  • A government run public option which will eventually take over our healthcare
  • Higher taxes on individuals
  • A mandate that businesses and individuals and families buy health insurance
  • Increase the cost of health insurance by requiring insurance companies to cover unneeded services
  • Higher taxes on certain healthcare service and equipment providers
  • Creates a government run “exchange” that all new policies must conform to
  • Creates more unfunded liabilities for state and local governments
  • Takes healthcare decision making out of your hands and puts it in the hands of government bureaucrats
  • Creates 110 new bureaucracies

The only way we can stop is to make our voices heard over the next two days and call our Congressmen. If you don’t know who they are or how to contact them, follow this link and put in your zip code.

Simply call or e-mail them and tell them to vote no on HR 3962.

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

Twitter user claims “Mission Accomplished” regarding Fort Hood incident

Profile_Pic

Profile photo of Twitter user SpicyHam

My nephew and his wife (who recently got out of the Army) live in the Fort Hood area.  After calling to see if they are all okay, I hit Facebook and Twitter to see if I could obtain some additional information.  That’s when I found this tweet:

“Fort Hood = Mission Accomplished.”

Here are some others from the same user:

Another: “Fort Hood, you deserved it. Next time, learn to dodge bullets, nubs.”

Another: “I’d nuke Fort Hood to clean that mess up.”

Another: “We were aiming for 9 to 11, apparantly our dear hero Scott has execded our expetations at Fort Hood and certainly over-performed! haha!”

Finally: “I say they went easy on them. I woulda burned their corpses and cut their head off at Fort Hood.”

The user name is Glenn Yu, he calls himself SpicyHam, and he indicates that he’s from Canada.

As soon as I found this, I notified the FBI. Shortly thereafter, television news indicated that one of the shooters was an Army major, so it’s unlikely this Twitter user was involved.  Whether he was or wasn’t, he’s certainly a sick s.o.b.

Book Review: Island by Aldous Huxley

I think many libertarians are a bit like myself, and tend to like a good dystopian novel. 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, Anthem, etc. It’s typically a book detailing a future utopian society, where government controls the lives of their citizens for their own good (1984 being the exception there), but the world the book portrays has unintended anti-freedom consequences that show the utopia to be rotten and empty.

Huxley’s Brave New World is a classic example. You have a government that controls every aspect of life, down even to selecting (and disabling if necessary) people into a caste system of people based upon their intelligence, educating (conditioning may be a better word) them from birth to accept their caste placement. They ply the populace with consumption, drugs, and sex to keep them happy and docile, and the result is a country largely free of crime and misery. This is all upset when a “savage” from the outside, educated and English-speaking, is introduced to the society. Being an individual and a freethinker, he quickly tires of the life devoid of emotion and value and starts (after the death of his mother) lashing out. The novel ends when John the Savage finds the only escape from the rot that he has left, and hangs himself.

Island is sort of an anti-BNW, in some rather (I would think) deliberate ways. It tells the story of a remote island, Pala, which had closed itself off to the world — an island which correspondingly had little reason for the world to take note. This is rapidly changing, though, as the island is sitting on quite a bit of oil. One journalist shipwrecks on the island (partly tasked by his boss, newspaperman AND oilman, with trying to find a way to exploit that oil) and starts exploring. He finds a populace where everyone seems to be very happy and well adjusted, a society that is well-run but still lightly-governed. The island is heavily informed by buddhist teachings, and uses early childhood conditioning, community families, sex (tantric buddhist variety) and drugs (of the magic mushroom variety) to expand the Understanding of, rather than pacify, the populace. It is not a society built for consumption, but rather a society built for happiness and self-actualization. The journalist (perhaps best described as a “savage” from civilization) grows enamored with this society, sees what he now understands as rot within his own, and wants to join. *(see below the fold for spoiler)

Island is widely described as Huxley’s counterpoint to Brave New World. It is clear that he sees the same demons (consumerism, a lack of individuality, and a value-less society) and the same fetishes (drugs and sex) in both books, but in Island he sees the impression of positive ethics and values as the difference. He changes the game, using sex and drugs as a way of furthering Understanding, using community family raising not as a way to blunt individuality but a way for children to avoid the parental roullette that often cause them to inherit their parents flaws, and using biological/behavioral understanding to inform educators in the proper ways to help each individual student learn and become self-actualized. I’m not well-steeped in Buddhism, but it appears to be heavily influenced by Buddhist rather than Western thought. The result is a society that, while not perfect, appears to meet the magical middle ground between planning a good outcome without really destroying individuality.

Island paints the picture of a beautiful society, and one that I suspect is a guideline, in the mold of Plato’s Republic**, for his ideal state. From a philosophical perspective I think is definitely something that should be read (although not a plank for any cohesive philosophy), as it contains some practical personal lessons about thought and emotion that many folks might benefit from.

But in another sense, it doesn’t work as a novel. It is a philosophical dialectic much like that of The Republic, and my thought reading throughout the whole aspect was Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged. Very long, and pretty important, but certainly not a page-turning thriller. The novel seems to have very little in the way of plot, the “conflict” takes a far back seat to the philosophy, and the scenes become nothing more than an excuse for philosophical pontificating, not advancing a story. I said after reading it on twitter that from a literary standpoint it was weak and grandstanding, and that it seemed far more like a writer’s first novel than his last, which Island was for Huxley.

As with many books I read, I see there to be value for many readers. But if you go into the book expecting an experience like Brave New World, you’re not going to get it. This is a treatise on humanity and the ideal state, informed by Huxley’s own spiritual and ethical beliefs. As such, it contains useful information on a personal level, to better understand yourself, the society immediately around you, and how you might improve both. It’s not much of a novel, and not something I’d pass off to a friend unless I absolutely knew them to be receptive to this type of book, but it’s worth it for what it is.


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Congressional House Call Day

Tomorrow on the Fifth of November, Americans for Prosperity will be coordinating with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann a Meetup at the United States Capital. The purpose of this meetup is to kill Obamacare.

This blog, along with many bloggers and activists were invited to a conference call tonight with Congresswoman Bachmann and Redstate.com’s Erick Erickson. The conference call was generally just a planning session that was not newsworthy in itself. However, in the conference call, activists from all over the country including Virginia and New Jersey in particular were reporting great success in arranging for buses for activists to head toward the capital to take part.

The purpose of this meetup is confront Congressmen, with video cameras preferably, and demand they take a stand opposing Obamacare. In addition to confronting Congressmen at the Capital, other activists will be going to district offices all over the country and making their opposition to Obamacare known.

Here’s the information for the event at the capital directly from AFP’s website:

WHAT: Health Care “House Call” on Capitol Hill
WHO: Americans concerned about our health care future
WHEN: Thursday, November 5, 2009 from 12:00-1:00pm
WHERE: West Front Steps of the U.S. Capitol (House Side)

Congresswoman Bachmann wanted us on the conference call to make sure to tell everyone to get there before noon.

In addition, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to increase security at the Capital to prevent the buses from parking close to the Capital.

If you want to demonstrate your opposition to Obamacare, AFP has made it easy to find your Congressman’s district office. Just follow the link.

Finally if nothing else, follow the link to find your Congressman and call their DC or even district office and tell to simply vote no to any government run health care.

Now is the time to remind our Congressman that we do not support the government take over of our health care. If we make our voices heard tomorrow and this week, we can kill Obamacare until 2011 at least.

Get on those phones or better yet, get to the Capital or your Congressman’s district office and make your voice heard.

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

Is the End of Government Reefer Madness Near?

Referring back to my post I wrote last week about the “perfect storm” the Obama Administration has created regarding medical marijuana, Colorado in many ways seems to be in the eye of this storm. It seems that more and more people are starting to understand the insanity of declaring war on a substance which has never resulted in an overdose of any kind (much less a deadly overdose). In yesterday’s election, voters in Breckenridge, CO passed a measure by 71% which decriminalizes marijuana in amounts of an ounce or less for individuals 21 and over.

The Denver Post is having guest columnists who are staunchly pro-legalization write persuasive and articulate articles which could be mistaken for something you might read here at The Liberty Papers. Here’s an excerpt from an article written by Robert Cory Jr.

Today, not much about Colorado’s economy moves. The state is broke and releases prisoners because it cannot afford to keep them. The governor slashes the higher education budget 40 percent. People lose jobs, homes and financial security. Our leaders face serious issues.

And what keeps some politicians up at night? That sneaking suspicion that some suffering cancer patient may gain limited pain relief through medical marijuana, coupled with that gnawing certainty that someone, somewhere, actually grew the plant for that patient.

But government cannot repeal the laws of supply and demand, and cannot extinguish the spark of freedom in peoples’ hearts. Now, the marijuana distribution chain becomes legal. Responsible entrepreneurs open shops to supply a skyrocketing demand for medicine. These small businesses serve needy patients. They pay taxes. They hire employees. They lease space. They advertise. And the drug war industrial complex can’t stand it.

The article only gets better from there. I find it very encouraging that Colorado’s newspaper of record would print this and that citizens are pushing back against big government, if only on this issue.

The Enduring Legacy Of Ayn Rand

Part One in Reason.tv’s new series about Ayn Rand:

Few authors have ever achieved the popularity that the novelist and essayist Ayn Rand (1905-1982) did. With the publication of The Fountainhead in 1943 and Atlas Shrugged in 1958, Rand became a full-blown cultural phenomenon, selling millions of books and inspiring countless readers—ranging from former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner to actress Angelina Jolie—with her moral defense of capitalism. A refugee from Soviet Russia, Rand argued that capitalism was the best way of organizing society not simply because it was more efficient than communism but because it allowed the individual to fill his or her potential. A self-declared “radical for capitalism,” Rand emphatically rejected collectivism of all stripes and embraced “man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”

Decades after her death, Rand’s work is hotter than ever. In an age of massive government intervention into every aspect of the economy and personal lives, sales of her books are way up and a movie version of Atlas Shrugged is in the works. References to Rand are everywhere from Mad Men to The Colbert Report to The Simpsons and there’s even a new critical appreciation, as evidenced by two new biographies, Ayn Rand And The World She Made and Goddess of The Right.

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