Monthly Archives: November 2010

Quote Of The Day

Will Wilkinson writing for The Economist:

To get at the value of WikiLeaks, I think it’s important to distinguish between the government—the temporary, elected authors of national policy—and the state—the permanent bureaucratic and military apparatus superficially but not fully controlled by the reigning government. The careerists scattered about the world in America’s intelligence agencies, military, and consular offices largely operate behind a veil of secrecy executing policy which is itself largely secret. American citizens mostly have no idea what they are doing, or whether what they are doing is working out well. The actually-existing structure and strategy of the American empire remains a near-total mystery to those who foot the bill and whose children fight its wars. And that is the way the elite of America’s unelected permanent state, perhaps the most powerful class of people on Earth, like it.

Hope n’ Change: Pardon Edition

Thus far, President Obama has pardoned 4 turkeys and 0 people. Does anyone else have a problem with this?

George Lardner Jr. writing an article for The New York Times entitled “No Country for Second Chances” does:

If by tomorrow [November 23, 2010] he pardons no one but turkeys, President Obama will have the most sluggish record in this area of any American president except George W. Bush. He’ll have outdone George Washington, who granted a pardon after 669 days. And he will also have outlasted Bill Clinton, who took three days longer than Washington to grant his first pardons. If Mr. Obama waits until Christmas Eve, he will make even his immediate predecessor, who waited until Dec. 23, 2002, seem more generous.

Last month, President Obama turned down 605 requests for commutations — from prisoners who wanted their sentences shortened — and 71 for pardons.

Lardner reports that the Obama administration has requested some hope n’ change with regard to clemency recommendation standards but apparently doesn’t want to grant clemency to anyone (other than turkeys) until then.

The article continues:

It’s difficult to understand why the president has been so unwilling to grant any clemency. As someone who has taught constitutional law, he knows that the founders gave him, and him alone, the power “to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States except in cases of impeachment.” It is likely that he also knows that a disproportionate number of federal prisoners are black, that mandatory sentencing guidelines have left many of them with excessive sentences and that at least a few of them deserve clemency, whether they’ve asked for it or not.

The president has not only the power but also the responsibility to grant clemency when it is warranted. A pardon can help a worthy former prisoner qualify for a job or a license. But mainly it restores the person’s civil rights, including the right to vote.

This puzzles me as well for many of the same reasons. This is one area I thought Obama actually would be a positive force for change but sadly he seems content with the status quo. The status quo being that only politically well connected individuals* or those whose cause for clemency become political causes** in of themselves ever have a realistic chance of success (regardless of merit or lack thereof).

Surly, out of the 4000+ clemency requests, there are at least a few hundred that are worthy of a presidential pardon. Off the top of my head, I can think of one.

Hat tip: The Agitator

» Read more

TSA Update: More Strip and Grope, Opponents are “Domestic Extremists”

Strip and grope to come to boats, trains, and more?

“[Terrorists] are going to continue to probe the system and try to find a way through,” Napolitano said in an interview that aired Monday night on “Charlie Rose.”

“I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to trains or maritime. So, what do we need to be doing to strengthen our protections there?”

Opponent’s of strip and grope are “domestic extremists”:

Following the publication of my article titled “Gate Rape of America,” I was contacted by a source within the DHS who is troubled by the terminology and content of an internal memo reportedly issued yesterday at the hand of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. Indeed, both the terminology and content contained in the document are troubling. The dissemination of the document itself is restricted by virtue of its classification, which prohibits any manner of public release. While the document cannot be posted or published, the more salient points are revealed here.

[…]

The terminology contained within the reported memo is indeed troubling. It labels any person who “interferes” with TSA airport security screening procedure protocol and operations by actively objecting to the established screening process, “including but not limited to the anticipated national opt-out day” as a “domestic extremist.” The label is then broadened to include “any person, group or alternative media source” that actively objects to, causes others to object to, supports and/or elicits support for anyone who engages in such travel disruptions at U.S. airports in response to the enhanced security procedures.

Fabulous, now I’m a domestic extremist. Well, as Barry Goldwater said: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” On second thought, when it comes to opposing an agency dedicated to controlling and intimidating American travelers, I will wear the extremist label with pride. Will you?

Open Thread: TSA & Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Edition

The reports I have read today so far are that the Opt-Out Day protests haven’t been very widespread with most travelers opting for the full body scan. Is this really what is happening at the airports or is this an attempt by the MSM and TSA to discourage protests?

What I’m interested in is hearing from those of you who are flying for this holdiay. What was your experience going through security? Were the TSA agents generally polite and professional (as I’m sure is the case most of the time) or did you witness or experience something you would consider inappropriate or criminal? (if so, did you by any chance record the event?) Did you see any protestors? (if so how many; did you protest?)

For those of you who didn’t fly, did you choose not to fly because of the TSA or for a different reason? Are you willing to fly in the future if these procedures do not change?

Finally, over the Thanksgiving holiday, did your family discuss the TSA procedures and if so, what was their attitudes about them?

In the mean time, everyone please have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

If You Don’t Fly, The Terrorists TSA Wins

If you want to get on an airplane in the US, you might be subjected to a radiation strip-search or a groping pat-down. Coming back on my recent flight from Vancouver I ended up in the scanner line, but haven’t experienced the pat-down yet. As a frequent traveler, I expect to be subject to this a lot more often, and I’m not happy about it.

There are several alternatives, and one that is constantly tossed about is “don’t fly at all”. The suggestion is that by boycotting air travel entirely, you’ll hurt the system in the one place they care about — the pocketbook. I think that’s wrong, on several levels.

Boycotts are notoriously ineffective unless they can be VERY widespread. Air travel is IMHO not as elastic as most of these boycott proponents suggest. The only people who will forego air travel altogether are the people for which it is a discretionary [i.e. vacation] activity, rather than a business requirement. That is frankly a small subset of the traveling public. Second, only a percentage of discretionary travelers are willing to forego air travel due to TSA procedures, cutting the effect of a boycott substantially. Third, air travel is often an economic necessity for longer trips, as the time and expense of traveling by other methods makes it impractical for anyone who isn’t retired. Fourth (and I’ll cover this later), you’re hurting the WRONG pocketbook.

I’m a perfect example of the type of traveler who’d have a very tough time boycotting air travel. I travel, on average at least once a month for business. These trips are typically from Southern California to areas too far away to drive in a reasonable time (Denver, various Midwestern cities, the Northeast, Canada, etc). My company wouldn’t support me wasting 2+ travel days each way when I can get to the places I need to go in a matter of hours. Sure, some people would say that this is a choice. After all, I don’t have to hold a travel-intensive job. I could easily find something else. And they’re right, it is a choice. I have chosen that the amazing benefits of having the job I have (including actually enjoying traveling to visit customers) are far more important to me than an ineffectual boycott.

Further, my immediate family all live in Texas or further east, so most pleasure or family-related trips would require me to fly or to take too much time off work to be reasonable. If my wife and I aren’t taking the kids with us, we want to get where we’re going without wasting time away from them, and if we ARE taking the kids with us, we don’t want to subject them to 14+ hours each way of driving.

For many trips that I’d want to take, my options are to fly, or to avoid taking the trip altogether. I refuse to let the TSA deter me from living my life, so that means I have to deal with the TSA. I fly a lot more than most people, but at the end of the day, my travel is like a lot of Americans’ — the most expedient way to accomplish what I want to accomplish. Allowing the TSA to stop me from flying hurts me a lot more than it hurts them.

But that doesn’t mean that I like it, or that I don’t have options. Today has been declared is national opt-out day by the We Won’t Fly group. While I obviously disagree with their call to boycott travel altogether, I’m a big fan of opting out of the scanner in favor of the enhanced pat-down. Is it demeaning? Yes, but so is the scanner. Unlike the scanner, though, opting-out has benefits:

  1. It hits the TSA pocketbook, not the airlines. A boycott is difficult to detect (particularly in the volatile and slowly-falling revenues of the airlines), but the cost of increased TSA screening is easily measurable. If a sizeable portion of those shunted to the scanners decide to opt-out, the TSA will naturally select a far smaller portion to go through the scanners to begin with.
  2. It gums up the system. Again, visibility is key. If the lines increase in length, if the wait times increase, it will make everyone angry. The result of the increase in lines will likely be TSA selecting a smaller portion of travelers to enter the scanners.
  3. TSA screeners HATE the enhanced pat-downs. While it might be demeaning to me as a traveler, it’s equally or more demeaning to the guy who has to feel balls all day. One of my long-standing beliefs is that the TSA doesn’t give a shit what we travelers think. Those who suggest a boycott of flying agree, as they think the only way to fix the system is for the airlines to demand the TSA relent. I think a more likely strategy for change is for the TSA to get internal pressure from their own employees. If TSO morale falls and there is internal dissension, it’s more likely to effect change than any howl they hear from outside.

Flying today? Opt-out. Flying next week (as I am)? Opt-out. If you want to make a change, and can mentally handle a physical search without an affront to your modesty, opt-out. It’s my plan from now on if I’m selected for the scanner.

TSA updates from people who opposed the TSA before opposing the TSA was cool

As Stephen Littau noted, November 24th (Wednesday) is the busiest travel date in the country and it’s also National Opt Out Day.  To assist Opt Out Day participants, and all air travelers after Wednesday, the Opt Out Alliance is providing free “Know Your Rights” travelers cards. I spoke with one of the key people at the Opt Out Alliance and he stated that because there isn’t enough time for people to receive a real card via snail mail before Wednesday, people who sign up will get an immediate .pdf copy of the card by e-mail and their wallet card will arrive later in the mail.

Here are some additional recent Transportation Security Agency highlights:

Penn Jillette gets funny:

[The TSA PR person] said, “Well, the airport is very important to all of our incomes and we don’t want bad press. It’ll hurt everyone, but you have to do what you think is right. But, if you give me your itinerary every time you fly, I’ll be at the airport with you and we can make sure it’s very pleasant for you.”

I have no idea what this means, does it mean that they have a special area where all the friskers are topless showgirls, “We have nothing to hide, do you?” I have no idea. She pushes me for the next time I’m flying. I tell her I’m flying to Chicago around 2 on Sunday, if she wants to get that security guy there to sneer at me. She says, she’ll be there, and it’ll be very easy for me. I have no idea what this means.

Ron Paul gets serious. Here’s the bill he’s introduced:

No law of the United States shall be construed to confer any immunity for a Federal employee or agency or any individual or entity that receives Federal funds, who subjects an individual to any physical contact (including contact with any clothing the individual is wearing), x-rays, or millimeter waves, or aids in the creation of or views a representation of any part of a individual’s body covered by clothing as a condition for such individual to be in an airport or to fly in an aircraft. The preceding sentence shall apply even if the individual or the individual’s parent, guardian, or any other individual gives consent.

Over at Forbes, Art Carden gets pragmatic:

Bipartisan support should be immediate.  For fiscal conservatives, it’s hard to come up with a more wasteful agency than the TSA.  For privacy advocates, eliminating an organization that requires you to choose between a nude body scan or genital groping in order to board a plane should be a no-brainer.

Bob Barr was prophetic, then adds that folks should opt out:

Well, surprise, surprise — the government is not telling us the truth.  In fact, the specifications for the manufacture of the machines mandates that they have the ability to store images on hard disk storage, and that they possess the ability to send the images.   Of course, the transmission of such data creates the obvious possibility that hackers could access the data and print out or view the images.  The images themselves portray people without clothes on, and include relatively clear depiction of genitalia.

Jason Pye described the concept of “security theater”:

I don’t know if you’ve heard the term “security theater,” but that’s what we have in our country. Rather than actually doing their jobs and following up on leads like the one given by this terrorist’s father, security officials are more interested in creating an illusion that we are safe by temporarily curtailing privacy rights or keeping you from bringing a razor in your carry-on.

Doug Mataconis targets President Obama:

More importantly, though, Obama’s response strikes me as being politically tone deaf. In the face of outrage over Americans being groped by TSA agents, children being man-handled in a bizarre procedure that makes no logical sense, and people being exposed to the humiliation of having prosthetic breasts removed or being covered in their own urine, Obama’s “Too bad, you’ve gotta do it anyway” response is a sign of how far removed from reality the Presidency makes a person. If the President or members of his family had to subject themselves to TSA screening on a regular basis, one would think his opinion on the matter w0uld be quite different.

Over at Reason, Hawk Jensen and Nick Gillespie channel Chuck Berry with the ultimate TSA theme song:

My Ding-A-Ling My Ding-A-Ling I want you to play with My Ding-A-Ling
My Ding-A-Ling My Ding-A-Ling I want you to play with My Ding-A-Ling

Back to the serious side of things, Gary Johnson asks “Why Do We Have a TSA?” His solution:

Instead of trying to fix or adjust or moderate TSA airport screening procedures to make them less abusive or slightly more tolerable, I say it is time to turn airport screening and security over to those who should be doing it in the first place: the airlines.

To be sure, there are plenty of additional TSA links and stories out there. Republicans galore are coming out of the woodwork regarding this issue right now. It’s worth noting that the original TSA authorization passed the Senate by a vote of 100 -0. Only nine House Republicans (and zero Democrats) opposed the final conference report on the bill.

Therefore, I thought I’d limit the links to people within the freedom movement who actually opposed the TSA long before opposing the TSA was cool.

Strip and Grope: Offensively Ineffective

By now, readers of this blog are well aware of the new search regime being enacted by the TSA: digital strip searches coupled with “enhanced” pat downs that include fondling of the genitalia. This has prompted more public outcry about the TSA than I have ever witnessed, everything from “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested!” to children being groped to stories of amputees and rape survivors and cancer survivors being repeatedly and horribly embarrassed in public. These new TSA procedures are indisputably an affront to the dignity of every person who is subjected to them. Even Hillary Clinton agrees on that front.

If that weren’t bad enough, the new procedures are ineffective. Dierdre Walker cuts right to heart of the matter with this statement:

We have unintentionally created an agency that now seeks efficiency and compliance more than any weapon or explosive.

Her story goes on to detail her own experience as a traveler whom the TSA believed would be compliant, and their reactions when she was not. She brings her experience as a law enforcement officer to play to assault the effectiveness of the TSA, and her piece is well worth a read. While starting from the same point as Ms. Walker, my line of reasoning ends up in a more loaded charge: The TSA deliberately puts control and intimidation ahead of security.

» Read more

5 Years Of The Liberty Papers

5 years ago today, Eric introduced The Liberty Papers to the world. A blog that was once a general “classical liberal” home has significantly expanded, as those of us writing here have grown and changed. When the doors first opened, we generally followed a Constitutionalist small-l libertarian mindset in general, and as Eric pointed out, were not anarcho-capitalists or neolibertarians. Since, I think we’ve grown to span the range from anarchist to RLC-style Republican writing. Some contributors, for various reasons, have moved on. Some new folks have joined us in those 5 years. Through it all, though, we’ve worked hard to be a consistent voice in favor of liberty in all its forms.

In 5 years, we’ve written nearly 4,000 posts, had almost 33,000 comments, and have crossed the traffic thresholds of 1.5M unique visits and 2M page views. If you had told me personally back in 2005 that some of the posts I’d written would have reached as many people as they have, I’m not sure I’d have believed it. We’ve had contributors interviewed on cable news networks, had traffic spikes (described below) as we broke a major story picked up by both Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, and in general have either elated or enraged people on all sides of the aisle. Even more importantly, though, from meeting many of our contributors and from interacting with them over 5 years, I believe that everything that we’ve done at this site has been from the heart. We’re not about deference to conventional wisdom or spewing the party line — at various points I’ve seen almost every contributor to this site willing to slaughter the sacred cow if he thought it had to be done. Our readers won’t always agree with us — hell, we contributors don’t always agree with each other — but I know that intellectual honesty is never sacrificed. That fact itself has generated a great deal of respect from me for everyone who writes here, and I hope it has done so for those of you who visit as well.

Eric, the founder of The Liberty Papers, was able to get an exception to his no-blogging policy and sent along this message:

5 years, what a cool thing that is! I remember how upset I was by Kelo and how I felt the need to respond. I started the Life, Liberty and Property group (does it still exist?), I encouraged all of my friends online to have a new Tea Party (I’m pretty sure I was the original Tea Partier) and I started The Liberty Papers. Boy, this has gone way beyond what I thought it would do. This group has broken news stories, helped influence politics, been the lead item on Google News lord knows how many times and some how managed to keep going in the face of blog fatigue.

I am very pleased that they put my post in their top posts of all time, but when I compare to some of the other folks that write here, I feel fairly lucky and rather humbled. I regret not being able to participate in this effort and all the other online efforts around liberty, smaller government and more individualism. But I made some choices about my career that ended up with employer desired limits on what I can say and write publicly.

I’m looking foward to 5 more years ……. and perhaps one or two anonymous comments when the urge strikes!

So how does a blog such as this celebrate a milestone like this? We thought the way to remember 5 years is to highlight the best of those 5 years. Over the past few weeks, we’ve worked as a group to catalog some of the top posts we’ve written, and then balloted them off to build up a top-10 list. I’ve presented that below, and suggest you take a look there and through the archives. I’d also like to open the comments to contributors and commenters alike. Do you have a specific memory of something that’s occurred here, or a post you really enjoyed? Feel free to offer your thoughts.

It’s been a good five years. Many times through the past five years, we’ve talked about fulfilling one of Eric’s promises in this opening post — to take longer-form writing and expand it into more permanent articles called “Liberty Papers”. In generating the posts making up our internal ballot, we’ve done the hard work and identified most of the posts which fit that criteria. While I can’t say that I was able to devote the necessary time to actually have that ready by this anniversary, it’s on the way.

Top 10 Liberty Papers posts of the last 5 years:

#1. The Sovereign Individual – Eric: When Eric first developed the idea of this site and offered contributor spots to those of us in the wake of the Kelo ruling, one may ask why we’d have joined the site. This essay is an example of the writing and the depth of thought that convinced us all to follow behind Eric. Due to his own career aspirations (holding a job with too much public visibility to present controversial opinion) he had to cease blogging, and I hope you read this essay and realize that the general fight for liberty is worse off for his absence. Of all the posts in our balloting, this one is the only to achieve unanimous votes for inclusion.

#2. The Case Against an Article V Constitutional Convention – Doug Mataconis: Those of us in favor of liberty often look at our Constitution, see the way that it has slowly been eviscerated by the ever-wider interpretation of its clauses, and wonder whether we might be able to “plug the holes” in the document. Doug points out, powerfully yet pragmatically, why the conditions that led to even the imperfect document we have no longer exist. He points out all the reasons that simply demanding change is likely to result in something worse than we have today, and nothing like libertarians might expect.

#3. The Politics of Liberty – Chris: If you’re looking for a logical foundation for basically 90% of libertarian or classical liberal thought, you’re not going to do much better than this piece. One of the things that has always impressed me about Chris’ writing and thinking is his ability to boil complex issues down to their roots, and explain them from those roots up. His posts can sometimes be very long, but that is due to necessity — you can’t write a foundation for all libertarian thought in 800 words. Unlike me, though, he wastes very little space.

#4. Liberty and Racial Discrimination: Responding to David Duke – tarran: Running up to the 2008 election, Ron Paul was a lightning rod for racial tension. Much was due to his own tone-deafness on the subject, and much was due to many unsavory elements of society finding his room within his stances for economic liberty to fit their own discrimination. Because of this, many people associate Ron Paul’s libertarian leanings (and libertarianism in general) with being an apologist for racism and discrimination. tarran wades into the depths of controversy to defend libertarianism and destroy some arguments of David Duke.

#5. The Scales of Justice Need Rebalancing – Stephen Littau: The statue of the goddess of justice is often depicted blindfolded, with scales and a sword. The scales denote impartiality, the sword signifies the punishment, and the blindfold suggests that the facts shall be weighed without consideration to he who presents them. As we all, know, the practice does not live up to the ideal. Juries are swayed by appeal to authority, by character rather than evidentiary consideration, and by the fact that often the state can easily out-spend and out-defend their argument. Cases that should be tried in a court of law are tried in the court of public opinion, and the question of a “fair trial” stretches the limit of fair. Stephen blows the doors off the prosecution-friendly system we have, and even — note my previous statements about sacred cows — suggests that our civil liberties are better served by furnishing through public funds access to the same level of experts & attorneys for the defense as for the state. When the cost of error is stealing years of a man’s life, I find it hard to disagree.

#6. You Should Want What I Want – Quincy: Much of politics is simply human biology and social evolution run on a massive scale. We’re simple tribal creatures, trapped in our own minds and our own biases. Some people think that those who don’t share those biases are depraved and immoral. We call those people conservatives. Some people want to enshrine those biases into law. We call those people leftists [okay, and some conservatives]. Quincy lays out the basis for these people, while arguing why their impulses to ban everything in sight are completely incorrect, immoral, and incompatible with human individualism.

#7. Homeland Security document targets most conservatives and libertarians in the country – Stephen Gordon: I mentioned above the point at which we broke news catching the notice of both Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, and this is the post in question. DHS released a report basically claiming that everyone with a distrust of federal power, believing in limited government or states rights, and/or a fan of Ron Paul, might just be a domestic terrorist. No, I’m not exaggerating. Read it, and you’ll see why it was probably the highest traffic day we’ve ever had.

#8. On Tea Parties and Republican hypocrisy – Jason Pye: The Tea Party movement exploded on the scene in early 2009, and drew a lot of compliment and a lot of criticism across the ‘sphere — we offered both here. Both our compliments and our criticism did include the same point, as suggested by Jason in the post: “The involvement of politically polarizing figures will ruin and destroy the credibility of a good movement.” Jason’s post came early in the Tea Party movement, and yet with folks like Palin and Huckabee seizing “leadership” of the movement, it seems that he has been proven correct.

#9. Mercantilism, Fascism, Corporatism — And Capitalism – Brad Warbiany: One of the hardest political subjects to grasp is economics, largely due to constantly misused terminology. This post simply and directly defines the terms and explains how they’re misused.

#10. Libertarianism and Democracy (pt 1), Libertarianism and Utilitarianism (pt 2) – Brad Warbiany: These two posts became a bit of a two-part series based upon comments, but at this point they still fit together quite nicely. The first post of this pair is a response to a leftist who complained that libertarianism is anti-democratic. In short, one is a moral system and the other is a political system, making the statement in itself nonsensical. The second post compares libertarianism to utilitarianism, which is much more apt as both are moral systems. Those who support socialism often [misguidedly] do so for utilitarian ends. Crowing to them about liberty accomplishes little, because they are working from different first principles. Showing them that socialism isn’t the best utilitarian system is a much better tactic.

Honorable Mentions:

The below two posts advanced far enough in the voting to merit mention, falling just short of the above:

Ramos and Compean Should NOT be Pardoned – Stephen Littau: In the waning days of the Bush administration, conservatives argued a pardon for two Border Patrol agents who were convicted of shooting an unarmed illegal immigrant in the back while he fled resisting arrest, and then covered it up. Stephen pointed out quite well that even if the facts those advocating pardon suggested (that the fleeing immigrant was a drug smuggler), a pardon was STILL not warranted.

An Open Letter To Neal Boortz – Jason Pye: Neal Boortz, a prominent libertarian/Republican radio host and advocate of the FairTax, was actively pushing for Mike Huckabee in the 2008 elections. He did this, one must think, because of Huck’s support for the FairTax, as having listened to Boortz quite a bit, the two agree on very little else. Jason Pye, in intense detail, explained all the reasons why Mike Huckabee is and should be anathema to libertarians. Replete with enough supporting links to crash Internet Explorer (sorry, bad example, that’s not saying much), I think that this post is one that should be kept around in the run-up to 2012, when Huck may return.

That wraps it up. As mentioned, feel free to post your memories of the last five years down below in the comments.

R.I.P. David Nolan, Founder of the Libertarian Party

I’m saddened to report that Libertarian Party founder David Nolan is no longer with us.

From the Libertarian Party website:

We have received news that David F. Nolan, a founder of the Libertarian Party, passed away this weekend. The Libertarian Party was founded in 1971 in Mr. Nolan’s living room. He had remained active with the Libertarian Party including currently serving on the Libertarian National Committee and running for U.S. Senator from Arizona in the recent elections. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth. He will be dearly missed by the Libertarian Party and the liberty community. We’ll have more information about David Nolan soon.

Back in September, I praised Nolan’s performance in his debate with Sen. John McCain.

Nolan died just two days before his 67th birthday.

UPDATE: Press Release From the Libertarian Party on David Nolan’s Passing

WASHINGTON – David F. Nolan, one of the founders of the Libertarian Party (LP), died unexpectedly on November 21 in Tucson, Arizona at the age of 66.

Mr. Nolan was also a member of the Libertarian National Committee (LNC). He is survived by his wife Elizabeth.

Mr. Nolan founded the Libertarian Party with a group of colleagues in his home in Denver, Colorado on December 11, 1971.

Mark Hinkle, Chairman of the LP, said, “I am saddened by the news of David Nolan’s death. He not only helped found the Libertarian Party, but remained active and helped to guide our party for the last forty years. We are now the third-largest political party in America, and one of the most persistent and successful third parties in American history, thanks in large part to David Nolan. We will feel this loss.”

Mr. Nolan ran this year as a Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senator in Arizona, against incumbent John McCain. In 2006, Mr. Nolan ran for U.S. Representative in Arizona’s 8th District, against incumbent Gabrielle Giffords.

Mr. Nolan was also well known for his invention of the “Nolan chart,” a two-dimensional chart of political opinion that was designed to get past the more familiar but deficient liberal-conservative paradigm. Marshall Fritz, founder of the Advocates for Self-Government, refined the Nolan chart into the popular World’s Smallest Political Quiz with its diamond-shaped chart.

The Advocates for Self-Government provides more information about David Nolan’s contributions here:
Visit site.

Comments from friends and colleagues:

Sharon Harris, President of the Advocates for Self-Government: “I am so shocked and saddened by Dave’s death — what a loss for the cause of liberty!”

Wes Benedict, Executive Director of the LP: “While I’ve admired David Nolan for years, this year I finally had the pleasure of working directly with him. He was an enthusiastic and principled activist doing the hard work right alongside newer members.”

Jack Dean, longtime friend and political associate: “David was the conscience of the Libertarian Party. He was always there to remind us what the party was about.”

Mr. Nolan had submitted a resolution for consideration at the November 20-21 LNC meeting in New Orleans. Unaware of Mr. Nolan’s death, the LNC adopted the resolution, which reads as follows:

“WHEREAS the Libertarian Party can grow only by attracting new members and supporters, and

“WHEREAS libertarianism is a unique political philosophy, distinct from both contemporary liberalism and contemporary conservatism, and

“WHEREAS we need the support of both former liberals and former conservatives who have come to realize that libertarianism and the Libertarian Party offer a better path to achieving a just, humane and prosperous society,

“The Libertarian National Committee hereby reaffirms that the Libertarian Party welcomes individuals from across the political spectrum who now accept the libertarian principles of self-ownership and non-aggression.”

View a biographical article about Mr. Nolan here.
==========

Sincerely,

Wes Benedict
Executive Director
Libertarian National Committee

P.S. If you have not already done so, please join the Libertarian Party. We are the only political party dedicated to free markets, civil liberties, and peace. You can also renew your membership. Or, you can make a contribution separate from membership.

Airport Activism Anyone?

With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up (and busiest travel day of the year), a group of concerned citizens is calling November 24th “National Opt-Out Day.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 is NATIONAL OPT-OUT DAY!

It’s the day ordinary citizens stand up for their rights, stand up for liberty, and protest the federal government’s desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an “enhanced pat down” that touches people’s breasts and genitals in an aggressive manner. You should never have to explain to your children, “Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it’s a government employee, then it’s OK.”

The goal of National Opt Out Day is to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change. We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we’re guilty until proven innocent. This day is needed because many people do not understand what they consent to when choosing to fly.

For more details, go here.

Since I won’t be flying, I won’t personally be participating in National Opt-out Day but I strongly encourage all who are to participate. I’m also interested in what experiences are when/if you are given the “porno or grope” option. I’ll have an open thread ready for you to tell us what you witness or experience.

In closing, here is a short segment from Judge Andrew Napolitano’s “Freedom Watch” called “Right to Know” concerning your 4th Amendment rights.

Quote of the Day: 4th Amendment Be Damned Edition

“Nobody likes the 4th amendment being violated when going through the security line, but the truth of the matter is we are going to have to do it.”-Former. Asst. TSA administrator Mo McGowan

So when the friendly TSA agents pull you out of the line for a groping or full body nudie scan as you try to make your way through the airport to fly to grandma’s house this Thanksgiving holiday don’t bother pulling out your pocket Constitution to inform them they are violating your 4th Amendment rights. They know they are and they don’t give a shit.

Hat Tip: Say Anything via Boortz

Men Cited For Engaging In Battlefield Simulations Near Childrens’ Playground

First it’s chess. Then Sun Tzu. Eventually you have a militia on your hands overthrowing the government. That’s how these things progress, right?

The scourge must be stopped at its source!

A group of seven mild-mannered chess players are due in criminal court next month after police officers from the 34th Precinct issued them summonses for playing their favorite board game in Inwood Hill Park.

The men were ticketed on Oct. 20 for being inside of Emerson Playground, a children’s play area off limits to adults unaccompanied by minors. But the men were in an area furnished with stone chess and backgammon tables — separated from the play area by a fence.

“There is a problem in this area with drug dealing, but the police have time to write tickets to people playing chess?” asked Yacahudah Harrison, 48, one of the men who received a summons for “Fail[ing] to comply with signs.”

“Under my direction, uniformed officers routinely enter the parks to enforce closing times and other regulations; all designed to protect the community,” he wrote in an e-mail.

“The NYPD allows for officers to issue summonses in lieu of effecting an arrest for appropriate offenses.”

But Inwood residents expressed outrage that the NYPD would target the chess players in light of the men’s history as caretakers and teachers for the next generation of Inwood chess players.

“This is a positive thing for our kids to see and do, it’s a positive mental activity for them,” said Regina Christoforatos, 38, whose 6-year-old daughter Zoe has been learning chess in the park.

(emphasis added)

The police captain claims that this is to protect the community.

What community needs to be protected from games of chess played in the park?

Hat Tip: Free Range Kids

Playing the World’s Smallest Violin for Rep. Charlie Rangel

Via CBSNEWS.com:

A House ethics committee subpanel today found Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel guilty of 11 of the 13 charges of ethics violations against him.

The panel, composed of four Democrats and four Republicans, emerged after private deliberation to announce their findings.

[…]

The subpanel will now submit its findings to the full ethics committee, which will schedule a public hearing to determine the appropriate sanctions to take against the longtime New York representative. Whatever action they decide on during the sanctions hearing will then go to the full House of Representatives. The committee could go so far as to recommend expelling Rangel, but that would be unlikely. Other possible sanctions include a House vote deploring Rangel’s conduct, a fine or a denial of privileges.

[…]

The hearing to consider the charges against Rangel began yesterday, but Rangel walked out of the proceedings in protest because he has been unable to acquire legal representation. Rangel’s legal team dropped the case this fall, reportedly after disagreements with Rangel over their defense strategy, and the lawmaker insists he neither has the money to find new counsel nor the time to set up a legal defense fund. By walking out of the hearing, Rangel chose to leave the evidence in the case against him unchallenged.

“I truly believe I am not being treated fairly,” Rangel said yesterday.

Poor Charlie. Here’s a tax and spend Leftist who lectures “the rich” to pay “their fair share” but when he gets busted for failing to properly file – well, he was just being “sloppy.”

I’m sure there’s a good number of people who were “sloppy” with their tax returns who couldn’t afford to pay for a good lawyer either. I’m also quite certain that most of these people have to worry about much worse consequences than to be censured by their colleagues (censure = “Shame on you, you’ve been a very naughty boy!”).

But as we all know, the rules are just different for the Washington elite because some people are more equal than others.

Yaknow, I was going to write something about this, now I don’t have to

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

It’s time for libertarians to start taking a look at Gary Johnson for POTUS 2012

“That’s the first sign you know you’re a libertarian. You see the red light. You stop. You realize that there’s not a car in sight. And you put your foot on the gas.” - Gary Johnson

Former two-term Republican Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico has been hitting the news a lot lately. This makes sense, as he’s not ruled out a possible presidential bid. Wikipedia provides this brief overview of Johnson’s history:

Gary Earl Johnson (born January 1, 1953 in Minot, North Dakota) is an American businessman and Republican politician who served as the 29th Governor of the U.S. state of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003. He is well-known for his low-tax libertarian views and his regular participation in triathlons.

Founder of one of New Mexico’s largest construction companies,[1] Johnson entered politics for the first term by running for Governor of New Mexico in 1994. He beat incumbent Democratic governor Bruce King by 50% to 40%. He cut the 10% annual growth in the budget by using his gubernatorial veto on a record 48% of bills.[1]

He sought re-election in 1998, winning by a ten-point margin. In his second term, he concentrated on the issue of school voucher reforms, as well as campaigning for marijuana decriminalization. During his tenure as governor, he adhered strictly to an anti-tax, anti-bureaucracy program, and set state and national records for his use of veto powers:[1] more than the other 49 contemporary governors put together.[2][3] Term-limited, Johnson retired from politics at the end of his second term.

In 2009, he founded the Our America Initiative, a 501(c)(4) political advocacy organization. Johnson has also been the subject of media speculation as a possible candidate for President of the United States in the 2012 election.[4]

Recent media reviews are a bit interesting. A current Daily Caller interview begins with this paragraph:

“For eight years,” former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson said with a wide grin on his face, “I was a libertarian governor disguised as a Republican!” Often dubbed the “next Ron Paul,” Johnson wears the libertarian (small “L”) label proudly, though in an interview with The Daily Caller he swore he was still a Republican.

Over at The American Conservative, Daniel Larison describes a potential problem with a Johnson candidacy, which is electability in a Republican primary:

The possibility of a Gary Johnson presidential bid is an exciting one, and I say that as a New Mexican who didn’t like some of the major projects he undertook as governor. I can say that I would happily support his candidacy were he to pursue the Republican nomination. That’s part of the problem Gary Johnson faces in a GOP nominating contest: he appeals to people like me and Matt Welch, who are not remotely representative of the Republican primary electorate. For one thing, I’m not a Republican. Not even Ron Paul’s 2008 bid could make me change my registration to vote in the state primary, and I doubt I would change it for the next election.

While a lot of Republicans liked Ron Paul’s fiscal policy issues during the 2008 elections, his foreign policy views certainly hampered his ability to win a GOP presidential nomination. Johnson has been very outspoken regarding marijuana policy, which has the possibility of making it tough for him to win a GOP nomination, as well.

“Marijuana legalization, arguably Johnson’s hallmark political platform, was advertised as being a main point of the lecture, and Johnson subsequently devoted a substantial portion of his address to it,” writes Patrick Derocher after a recent Johnson lecture at Fordham University.

Over at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government, long-time Republican political consultant Roger Stone is a bit more optimistic than I am:

A 2012 Presidential candidacy by Johnson would lead to a needed public dialog on the failed war on drugs. Prop 19 failed only because of the gross lies told about marijuana use by police groups, Senator Diane Feinstein and, get this, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Anyone who has seen “Pumping Iron” remembers Arnold puffing on a joint between heavy sets. Do as I say, not as I do, Ahhnold ?

This is not to say Johnson is a one dimensional candidate and their will be plenty of opposition to ending the prohibition of Marijuana in the Republican Party, but a Johnson candidacy would find a constituency in the early primary states, particularly “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire and would spark a national discussion that must be had.

Sarah Palin won’t run ( you heard it here first!). The race is wide open. Run, Gary Run.

Following the same vein, CNN entitled a recent article “Forget Palin, here’s Gary Johnson.” Here’s the pertinent excerpt:

Skeptics of the Tea Party note that the right never organized in opposition to the profligate spending of the Bush administration. They wonder why a movement so vocal about liberty focuses exclusively on the economic variety, and suspect that if the GOP is returned to power, government won’t grow smaller or less intrusive so much as serve different masters.

Come 2012, however, there is one Republican who’ll be uniquely positioned to win over these skeptics: former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a long-shot candidate whose success in the presidential primary would signal, as nothing else could, that the principles espoused by the Tea Party really changed the GOP.

Certainly Johnson would provide a bridge between fiscal conservatives and the left, as E. D. Kain notes at The Washington Examiner:

That being said, Johnson’s positions on civil liberties, foreign policy, and the war on drugs dovetail nicely with my own, and are quite a lot better and more coherent than anything we’ve seen out of either traditional Democratic or Republican candidates. I’m not nearly the sort of fiscal hawk that Johnson is, preferring to keep reasonable spending levels on public education, transportation, and health, but at least he’s consistent in his approach to both civil liberties and fiscal affairs. Indeed, if the Tea Party was as coherent as Johnson, I might even join up – though my participation would be more a protest of our egregious drug policies and our failed security policies than anything. Limiting government must mean more than simply limiting taxes and spending if it is ever to become a truly coherent political force.
Johnson isn’t afraid to take on his likely competition.  This clip from a recent profile piece from The New Republic is telling:

What does Johnson make of Palin? On a drive through the foothills of New Hampshire, I ask him. Riding shotgun, he turns the question around on me. “Um, I guess some people think she’s folksy,” I say from the backseat. “Well, at first she strikes you as folksy,” he shoots back. “And then you realize: She might be running for president of the United States! And then, don’t we have the obligation to tell her what a terrible idea that is?” Cupping his hands to his mouth, he brays, “Sarah! We love you! Don’t run!” He also performs a rendition of the “deer-in-the-headlights” interview she did on “The O’Reilly Factor,” about the BP oil spill.

He’s also happy to take on the Republican establishment, as The New Mexico Independent notes:

The free-speaking Johnson also penned a critical statement on the Republican takeover of the House, on Facebook:

“After yesterday’s election I think it would be wrong for the Republicans to take the results as some sort of mandate for Republican leadership. I believe that the Republicans have an opportunity to redeem themselves for when we owned the White House and when we ran up record deficits and when we gave America a prescription health care benefit that added trillions to the entitlement liability and ran up record deficits.”

If Johnson runs, and all signs seem to indicate that he will, the Republican primary process will certainly be interesting.

“As an unabashed Johnson supporter (which is an extremely unusual place to find myself vis-a-vis a politician), my main hope has been that at least one libertarian-minded candidate make it to the GOP’s final round in 2012,” writes Matt Welch at Reason. “Though as one wag suggested to me on Election Night, why not two?”

Over at Slate, Dave Weigel noted that the process could be a lot of fun, too. Here’s the excerpt he pulled from the TNR profile, which was immediately followed by the quote at the top of this post:

“Look,” he says, “there are times and places where it would be perfectly safe to go one-forty, and there are others where it would be reckless to go fifty-five.” Within moments, he’s taking aim at stop signs and red lights. “I’m not opposed to the concept,” he allows. “But sometimes, you know, it’s 5:30 in the morning! There’s nobody on the road!”

I’ll have the advantage being able to have some face time with Governor Johnson next week, as the Samford College Republicans and the Alabama Republican Liberty Caucus (disclosure: I’m the current chairman) will be co-hosting a campus event in Birmingham where he will be speaking. We are following this up with a Liberty on the Rocks mixer right down the street, where Johnson will also be present.

While it’s far to early to begin predicting the outcome of the 2012 GOP presidential nomination process, it seems pretty safe to predict that the debate could indeed be interesting.

Innocence Project: Key DNA Sample Not a Match to Man Executed in Texas

The Innocence Project reported just today that the hair sample used to condemn Claude Jones to death was not a match.

“(Houston – November 12, 2010) The Innocence Project today released DNA test results proving that crucial hair evidence found at the scene of a murder, the only physical evidence linking the accused Claude Jones to the crime, did not belong to Jones. Although he always maintained his innocence, Jones was executed for murdering Allen Hilzendager on December 7, 2000. George Bush, who was awaiting a decision from the Florida Supreme Court on whether the presidential election recount would continue, denied Jones’ request for a 30 day stay of execution to do DNA test on the hair sample. The memo from the General Counsel’s office that recommended against the stay did not tell Bush that Jones was seeking a DNA test of the hair. Evidence that the hair “matched” Jones was critical to the prosecution’s case at trial and proved to be the key factor in a narrow 3-2 decision by the Texas Court of Appeals finding there was sufficient corroboration of the accomplice who testified against Jones to uphold the murder conviction.

[…]

“It is unbelievable that the lawyers in the General Counsel’s office failed to inform the governor that Jones was seeking DNA testing on evidence that was so pivotal to the case,” said former Texas Governor and Attorney General Mark White. “If the state is going to continue to use the death penalty, it must figure out a way to build safeguards in the system so that lapses like this don’t happen again.”

[…]

“The DNA results released today may not prove that Jones was innocent, but they do raise serious questions about whether the prosecution’s case was strong enough to present to a jury and the decision to seek the death penalty in the first place,” said Governor White. “No matter what your opinion of the death penalty, I hope we can all agree that it should only be used when the state is absolutely sure that the right person has been convicted.”

So why are we only now learning nearly 10 years after the fact that the State of Texas executed Claude Jones who was convicted based solely on a hair sample that did not tie him to the crime scene?

After the San Jacinto County District Attorney’s office refused to give the Innocence Project permission to do testing on the evidence, the Innocence Project, the Texas Observer, the Innocence Project of Texas and the Texas Innocence Network brought a successful lawsuit to do the testing that proved the hair did not belong to Jones.

Yet another example of the State of Texas stonewalling to keep the facts from ever seeing the light of day. These are the same government officials who are actively covering up another case where the state likely executed an innocent man in 2004 by the name of Cameron Todd Willingham (See the Frontline documentary of this case here).

Just two weeks ago, another man by the name of Anthony Graves became the 12th death row inmate exonerated in Texas (and 139th in the country) since 1973 after serving 18 years. Fortunately for Graves, his exoneration came before his date with the death chamber.

In Gov. Rick Perry’s mind, the exoneration of Graves was proof positive the criminal justice system in Texas is “working.”

“I think we have a justice system that is working, and he’s a good example of — you continue to find errors that were made and clear them up,” Perry said. “That’s the good news for us, is that we are a place that continues to allow that to occur. So I think our system works well; it goes through many layers of observation and appeal, et cetera. So I think our system is working.”

Now that this new revelation that Claude Jones was executed based on faulty evidence has come to light, I wonder if Gov. Perry still thinks the system is “working”? They were so cock sure that Graves, Jones, and Willingham* were guilty of capital murder and proven wrong but continue to use the same stonewalling tactics in Hank Skinner’s and other cases. Gov. Perry et. al would rather cover these cases up because they don’t want to risk losing their license to kill.

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Sarah Palin E-Mail Hacker Goes To Prison For Doing Something Uncle Sam Does Every Day

To paraphrase the sign on Ron Paul’s desk, don’t break into someone’s email account that’s the government’s job:

A former University of Tennessee student who was convicted of hacking into Sarah Palin’s e-mail during the 2008 presidential election has been sentenced to a year and a day in custody.

A federal judge recommended Friday that David Kernell serve his time in at the Midway Rehabilitative Center on Magnolia Avenue in Knoxville, a halfway house, instead of prison.

Kernell was also sentenced to three years probation. The Bureau of Prisons will decide if he is allowed to go to the halfway house.

Kernell’s attorney had asked the judge not to sentence him to custody and instead wanted only probation. The attorney noted that similar cases had resulted in probation.

Court documents showed that prosecutors argued for 18 months in prison.

As John Cole notes, it’s too bad for Kernell that he wasn’t “protecting national security” as an employee of the NSA. They’d probably be throwing him a party about now.

Jim DeMint Gives The Middle Finger To Libertarian Republicans

Only a few days after Mike Huckabee dissed libertarians on Fox News Channel, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint did the same thing:

One doesn’t expect excessive amounts of wisdom from Sen. Jim Demint (R-SC), the troglodyte who recently told an audience, according to the Spartanburg Herald, that “if someone is openly homosexual or if an unmarried woman sleeps with her boyfriend, then that person shouldn’t be allowed in the classroom,” but this is a new level of stupid. When asked to comment on Gov. Mitch Daniels’ suggestion that it’s time for détente in the culture war, Demint tells Fox News that one “can’t be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative.”

Video:

As Hot Air’s Allahpundit points out, DeMint’s comments point out the possible conflict between social conservatives and more libertarian oriented Republicans:

Originally, I thought this message was just something DeMint was pitching at Christian conservatives to convince them that the tea party’s libertarianism is overblown, that they’re still a cherished constituency despite the reordering of conservative priorities to favor spending over “values.” But now I think he means it, which makes me wonder. For instance, last I checked, Glenn Beck’s a fiscal conservative (and notably a fan of the idea of Americans turning back to God) but also … fine with gay marriage. DeMint himself, however, is not: He told Al Hunt last year that neither the feds nor state governments should have the power to legalize same-sex unions. Per his God/government dynamic, I would think he’d support getting government out of the marriage business altogether and trusting in Judeo-Christian morals to handle this problem, but he still supports state recognition of traditional marriage as far as I can tell. Likewise with his comments about how gays and unwed mothers don’t belong in the classroom. Said GOProud’s founder Chris Barron of that, “The idea that someone who says they believe in limited government would support the government weeding out gay teachers and unmarried sexually active female teachers simply defies logic.” So maybe our error here is in assuming that when DeMint says “fiscal conservatism,” he means it as a byword for “less government” universally.

And Jim DeMint has made no secret of his desire to use the state to enforce his social goals. Just a few years ago, for example, he said that that gay men and unmarried women shouldn’t be allowed to teach in public schools, so it’s fairly clear that when it comes to the shrinking the size, scope, and power of government Jim DeMint is not onboard. Libertarian-minded Republicans should take note of that fact.

To the extent Jim DeMint was ever on my 2012 “short-list,” he’s off it now.

Update: Jason Pye nails it over at United Liberty:

Republicans were able to regain control of the House of Representatives because the economy is tanking. Social issues were of little concern to voters. Even at CPAC, the annual conference for conservatives, attendees were much more concerned about the economy than social issues.

I believe very much in free markets, but I’m not a social conservative. Why? Because I believe liberty applies to more than just economics. We are sovereign individuals, and we are entitled to live our lives free of government intervention, provided we are not infringing on the rights of others. It’s what John Stuart Mill called the “harm principle” in his book, On Liberty.

(…)

if the GOP takes the mid-term election as a mandate to pass a Federal Marriage Amendment or to find some other social boogeyman to go after, they’re going to wind right back up in the minority

Yep

If The Gov’t Doesn’t Pick Up The Trash, It’s Rat-Infested Black Plague For Us All

It seems that Radley Balko has gone playing whack-the-left again, this time smacking around John Cole of Balloon Juice for an overreacting tirade against people who are overzealously overreacting. It seems that Fountain Hills, AZ had competitive trash pickup, and the city council wanted to bid out trash pickup as a single-provider city service instead. The people of Fountain Hills reacted like a bunch of 1950’s anti-communists, calling it socialism and likening it to Obamacare. John Cole and his comment section went ape-shit, in the original post and follow-ups here and here.

Quite a few commenters suggested that if we don’t have municipal trash collection, we’ll look like third-world countries where people just bury, burn, or leave their trash out on their property to rot. Strangely, I hadn’t heard a single report of uncollected trash in Fountain Hills leading to this change. Even more fun, one commenter proved the old adage that everything that’s not compulsory shall be prohibited:

Actually, oddly I agree that cities shouldn’t have uniform trash pickup, if only because I think we should move towards having zero waste as individuals. (Reusable bags for food, no consumer goods, and composting.)

I couldn’t have drawn up a caricature this flat if I’d had a projector to trace it with on my wall.

So why am I wading into this morass? Because I’ve actually lived this. One of the features of competitive services is that if they don’t live up to my guidelines, they don’t get my business.

When I first moved to Georgia, I lived in unincorporated Cobb County, where there was no monopoly muni provider of trash pickup*. There were about 3 or 4 competing services. I ended up choosing one, and despite repeatedly saying they’d deliver a trash can, they neither did so nor did they haul away my trash. Now, I don’t think they’re a bad company. I think they just had a few repeated screwups. As we all know, occasionally government has screwups, like raiding the wrong address for drugs, or putting 8-year-olds on TSA no-fly lists. Unlike government poor service, though, I had, and took advantage of, the right to fire them. When my needs weren’t being met, I had an alternative.

The problems didn’t quite end there, of course. I then received a bill for “set-up fees” for the account, despite the fact that they’d never provided services. Rather than face collections, I paid the bill up front, and then sent an email to their customer service demanding it be refunded. They quickly and cordially acceded to my request, with no hassle whatsoever.

You can just ask the same Radley Balko how easy it is to get money he’s owed from the government, even when he’s done everything right and hounded them repeatedly for an explanation.

Municipal trash service isn’t really the hill to die on for a libertarian. It’s one of those services that straddles the line of public good vs. private market. Our HOA actually debated whether to consolidate to a single provider, as some of the families in the neighborhood were concerned about large trucks coming through on multiple days rather than a single day. It didn’t happen (at least during the 2 years I’d lived there), but I understand the argument and even as a libertarian I wouldn’t have moved out of the neighborhood over such a small issue. The best-run competitively-bid single-provider service can probably achieve economies of scale and efficiency that a competitive market (in this case) cannot — which of course isn’t to say that local governments always provide the best-run single-provider system. But it’s ridiculous for those opposing a competitive system to suggest that it doesn’t work, or that there aren’t actual benefits to customer service in a competitive system.
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Not Too Bad for an Amateur Prognosticator

Two years ago today, in a post I wrote entitled One Libertarian’s Advice for Republicans and Republican Leaders, I made the following observation and prediction:

This is not to say that you [the Republican Party] will continue to lose every election until you return Goldwater/Reagan conservatism. There is a good chance that you will regain one or both houses of Congress in 2010 and perhaps the presidency in 2012. But if you wish to win elections and stay elected, you will need to return to these philosophical roots.

[…]

[5th Footnote]
Due to the unrealistically high expectations Obama set for himself, many of his supporters will be sorely disappointed when they learn he is a mere mortal. I also believe the Democrats will overreach and try to take the country further to the Left than a majority of Americans are prepared for.

Okay so maybe I’m not exactly Kreskin. I did hedge quite a bit by saying “one or both houses” and we have another 2 years before we know the outcome of the 2012 race. Anyone who has followed politics or has spent any amount of time objectively studying U.S. political history would have likely made that same prediction.

None of us should be surprised that voters wanted to purge the House after Obama failed to meet the high expectations of his supporters (however unrealistic). The Democrats were the ones who benefited with electoral gains in 2008 as a result of President Bush’s 8 years of big government growth, spending, two wars with no end in sight, debt, bailouts, complete rejection of free market principles, and a McCain/Palin presidential ticket (just to name a few). All this coupled with support of these policies by Republicans in congress plus the real and perceived corruption of its members created a perfect opportunity for Democrats to take control.

This did not mean, however; that Americans decided they preferred the big government policies of the Left to big government policies of the Right. Election ’08 was a rejection of the Republicans’ irresponsible actions just as ’10 election is a rejection of Democrats’ overreaches and failure to improve the economy.

As any quarterback can attest, when a team isn’t performing well, it’s the backup quarterback who gets all the love from the fans. But once that quarterback becomes the starter, that support fades very quickly whenever he fails to lead his team to more victories than his predecessor. The same is true in politics.

Republicans in the House should bear this in mind: the very same forces* that swept you back into power in 2010 can sweep you right back out in 2012.

*Assuming that the Tea Party is serious about principle and will hold their candidates accountable if the Tea Party candidates fail to do as they promised. I’m still skeptical.

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