Author Archives: Nick

She Even Says Hot Things

Predictably, Jessica Alba is under fire for saying she doesn’t consider herself a latina:

Alba is my last name and I’m proud of that. But that’s it. My grandparents were born in California, the same as my parents, and though I may be proud of my last name, I’m American…I had a very American upbringing, I feel American, and I don’t speak Spanish. So, to say that I’m a Latin actress, OK, but it’s not fitting; it would be insincere.

I fail to see what’s wrong with that. Personally, I’m darned proud of my heritage. But I had a very American upbringing. I consider myself at least as much American as I am Indian, but if one day I’m famous enough to be in countless news articles and press releases, I hope they don’t preface my name with ‘Indian’ like they seem to do all too often with her. But it sounds like she wasn’t raised in hispanic culture, as I was raised Indian. So why should she identify as a latina?

As Mary Katherine Ham detailed:

One blog post on the comments remarks, “Guess sell-outs come in all races and sizes.” Another calls it a “disturbing hoard of quotes.” Another claims she “hates Mexicans.”

Comments about Alba’s comments include, “F**K YOU THEN, JESSICA…VIVA LA RAZA!!!,” “She should just change her last name to White, then,” and “I thought she could be a good role model for Latinas, but she is a fake, tryin’ to be white.”

Personally I would’ve called her a sellout if, given her generic American upbringing and lack of facility in Spanish, she insisted on calling herself latina. She would’ve been fake if she wore the latina badge with pride, given that as she says herself it says nothing about her but her genetic origins…

But maybe I’m just crazy.

I’ve said since high school that the bigger deal you make about race, the bigger deal it becomes. It doesn’t matter if its white people making a big deal about black people or if its hispanics making a big deal about themselves. Either way, you make race a larger part of your external identity than it need be.

What this whole ruckus demonstrates is the continued and distressing trend of American minorities to define themselves in terms of their skin color and distant geographic origin. And more importantly to see people of other ethnicities as outsiders.

It seems obvious that you can’t create a colorblind society if you keep making a big deal about your own color, but I probably lack the ‘nuance’ and ‘erudition’ that allow progressives to see things otherwise.

Ms. Alba, if you’re reading this I want you to know that when I look at you I don’t see a Latina. I just see a really hot chick.

A Look At Our 2008 Options

I tried to take a break from politics. It didn’t work. Obama getting the spotlight, more than anything else, sparked my re-awakening. He reminds me of FDR. That is not a good thing. The more I hear of his ‘vision’–and peoples’ gushing reaction to it, the more I get the urge to scream, rip my hair out, and go become a hermit. Surely we can’t fall for the same trick twice? But apparently we can. Obama is the kind of person who would coax America into a cage–a comfortable one, but a cage nonetheless–all in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘prosperity’, neither of which can possibly be realized under such a stifling regime as he wishes to create, just as FDR once did in an administration that was more damaging to liberty than any that has existed since.

And from that came more political thinking, something I didn’t want to happen…

For years, I’ve taken to shorthanding my political beliefs as ‘socially liberal, economically conservative’. Something most of us have done when describing our philosophy to our more benighted friends. I’ve never been fond of it, seeing nothing ‘liberal’ about allowing government to control our economic freedom. I never liked the image that ‘socially liberal’ conveyed either, as all too many ‘progressive’ ideas on social policy are in fact quite authoritarian. And, as Hayek always held, to control the economic is to control the social, and vice versa.

Now as I look at the Democrats’ platform, I find there’s basically nothing there I can stand behind. Precious little in the Republican Party Line either, but at least there’s something. And more importantly, a someone or two I could get behind.

For the past 20 to 30 years, we’ve tended to vote overwhelmingly for Republicans. But that changed substantially in the 2004 election, as one would expect given the continual outrages that Bush and the Republican majority inflicted upon us. Only 53% of us voted for Republican congressmen in 2004, with 44% voting for Democrats. 2006 was possibly worse, but I’m too lazy to conjure up figures.

What’s bothering me about this is that we are attempting to choose the lesser of two evils, when either one is sufficient to destroy the United States as we know and love it. Oh, I don’t mean a land of ruins and squalor, but I do mean a land of stagnation and statism. A land that no longer resembles the country that our forefathers sought to establish.

Trying to choose between the two is kind of like picking which nuke you’d like to be hit by, the 21 kiloton Fat Man, or the 13 kiloton Little Boy? It’s not exactly a question that makes a whole lot of sense.

So how about a third option? Lets not get nuked at all. Or at the very least take steps to delay it. Too bad that as a country we’ve developed the mentality that longshots and third parties are nothing more than throwing your vote away, which is why the vast majority of libertarians divy up their vote between left and right. I was just 8 years old when Perot made his run at the presidency in 1992. I still know very little about him or his policies. What I do know is that at one point he led the polls. And on that fateful day in November, he managed to scavenge up a full 19% of the vote. Unheard of for a third party candidate in the modern era.

Unfortunately, we ‘learned our lesson’ after that, blaming Perot for Clinton’s ascendancy and Bush’s loss. In 1996, all third party candidates together earned barely half of what Perot did in 1992, and he was once again blamed as the reason Clinton won. And in 2000, they barely registered, although, once again a third party candidate–Nader–was blamed for Bush’s victory. The problem is, we learned the wrong lesson.

It’s true that we’ve always been more or less a two party system. But it hasn’t been the same two parties over the 200 and some years this country has been in existence. Parties changed, they split, they dissolved, and new parties came in to take their place. For crying out loud, the Democrats proudly call themselves ‘The Party Of Jefferson’ (and manage to say it with a straight face!). Does the Republican party of today even begin to resemble the vision of Goldwater in 1960? Heck no.

The lesson we should have learned from Perot is that it is possible to change the status quo. Rome was not built in a day, and in such a contentious and ignorant population–how else do you explain the way Democrats get away with calling themselves liberal–you can’t expect the revolution to happen in a single election cycle. Much as it pains me to say, this election will probably not be the revolution we want and need, but if we play our cards right, it can be an investment , one that will pay dividends in the future. I’m sure we’ll lose, but if we lose big enough, we still manage to demonstrate the dissatisfaction with the two mainstream parties. And when the hue and cry raises up that our ‘thrown away’ votes allow the ‘wrong guy’ to win, that’s when we really go on the offensive. Both guys were the wrong guy, we’ll say. And look how well we did last time. Lets put the pressure on and actually win next time.

The lesser of two evils approach worked, more or less–less rather than more in hindsight–when one evil was substantially less lethal than the other. But in today’s environment, we can’t vote for the leading Republican just because he’s not a Democrat. And we can’t vote for a Democrat just because we’re pissed at the Republicans (like we did in the past two elections).

The libertarian and constitution parties simply are not viable. But we’ve been given a gift in Ron Paul. I’ve been a longtime fan of his. And I certainly never would have guessed he’d get as much attention as he’s gotten. I do disagree with his stance on the Iraq War and middle east interventionism in general. But I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. That, more than anything has been the reason that for once a true liberal has gotten anything resembling real press for the first time in my life. Its allowed him to talk about his domestic policies at several venues. It’s absolutely refreshing to be able to hear a libertarian philosophy presented on TV.

I think we’ll see the buzz only continue to build as his newfound celebrity enables him to more properly and clearly state his position on domestic issues. And it’ll be interesting for sure if he’s allowed to attack head on the principles of the so-called modern liberals in a public forum. He did a great job of it on The Daily Show and with Bill Maher, much better than I would’ve thought.

Dr. Paul’s newfound celebrity is also coming at a great time, politically speaking. There have never been fewer Republicans, and the Democrats aren’t doing so hot either, so it goes without saying that there are more unaffiliated people of voting age than ever before. There is only one candidate out there who isn’t really a Republican or a Democrat (regardless of his nominal party affiliation). That right there, is a huge niche just begging to be exploited.

All he has to do is convince all those dissatisfied people that McCain, Giuliani, Hillary, and Obama are just the same ugly message of increasing intervention and domination of our lives, just clothed slightly differently. It really doesn’t matter if he wins the nomination as a Republican or not, so long as he managed to take those same supporters with him when he goes.

Like I said, I doubt he’ll win, and I do disagree with him on certain issues. But I doubt we as a nation are suddenly going to become satisfied with the Democrats and Republicans after the election either. So long as we don’t take his loss as a defeat, but rather gained ground, we have potential to influence the 2010 election to an even greater degree. And perhaps in 2012 the country might be ready for a truly liberal president.

Ron Paul is a chance at a future in which liberty still exists. He’s an investment in a future free of statists. The only viable investment there currently is.

Damage Control: Why We Need To Lock Down The Borders

I know for a fact that several of the contributors to this blog will disagree with my stance on border control. Doug just posted about it. Brad’s mentioned it in the past. And if my memory (currently taken up by such wonderful things as bone cancers and endocrine disorders) serves correctly, there are a couple of contributors to this blog that agree with me.

What I would like to see is a considerable streamlining of the process for legal immigration where we have openings and a much strengthened enforcement of illegal immigration laws and more impenetrable borders.

As the son of immigrants, I’m very grateful for the opportunities this country has given us. And I’m even more thankful to have received what’s left of the blessings of liberty our (your?) forefathers fought and died for.

But it’s the very fact that our liberty is but a faded reminder of its past glory that makes me wish for stronger borders. There is no doubt that our country was built by immigrants and that immigration is vital to our continued growth and progress. I say this because both my parents work jobs ‘that Americans won’t do.’ And they do a pretty good job. Both of these jobs require graduate degrees.

There are certain political and economic realities of the world and this country that we must accept and deal with or face the prospect of watching what’s left of our liberty circle down the drain because we refused to support distasteful but necessary legislation. The fact that we stayed true to our liberal ideals would be little solace if we inhabited a prison born of statism.

I discussed this concept of cutting to cure in an earlier essay. The Castle Doctrine makes me angry, as does the fact that I have to take a class and apply for a CCW. These things shouldn’t have to exist. The second amendment and the writings of our ideological fathers confirm this. Yet here I am, saving up the money and finding a free Saturday to take the class. And there I’ll be, standing in the Sherrif’s office paying him several hundred dollars so he can run my prints like a common criminal so I can get a permit just to carry a means to defend myself.

But do you know what would be altogether worse? Not being able to defend myself in my home. Not being able to carry. More regulation, more bureaucracy. But my 2nd amendment rights at least partially restored–in a practical if not ideological sense.

I’ve presented the political and economic arguments for why we need tougher border control before, so I’m not going to go in near as much detail this time around.

In today’s political climate, Kennedy’s famous quote has been reversed. It is now not about what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you. In this climate, freedom has been redefined as comfort. Into this environment you invite millions of people who through no fault of their own better qualify as ‘have-nots’ than ‘haves’. And as the ‘have nots’–together with the cultural elite–have shown themselves all to willing to do, they will vote from others’ pocketbooks. And they will vote for other egregious restrictions and legalized discrimination.

As I have remarked before:

Will [the children of illegal immigrants] do as well economically and academically as the native population? Doubtful. And so the hue and cry of ‘racism’ and ‘prejudice’ will be raised. A generation from now Sharptons and Jacksons with latinized names will rise up, speaking to cultural identity that their only path to ‘freedom’ lies in increased governmentally-sanctioned privilege. Privilege that will come at the expense of freedom and opportunity for all other races. And in this political climate, they will be all too successful.

And economically, a progressive unconstitutional tax system is the order of the day. One that’s exacerbated by the double and triple taxation through corporate income tax, capital gains taxes, and even death taxes. This situation is compounded by a regressive government expenditure system. In which through social welfare and various other government services, far more is spent per capita on the people paying the least in taxes.

Those who pay the bulk of taxes receive the least in benefits. Which honestly is fine by me. That’s not what I’m objecting to. But when you add in a massive influx of people who do not reach the equity point in terms of taxation vs. government expenditure, you have an obvious problem. One that would be solved by an even greater (and probably even more progressive) tax burden. Tax freedom day comes late enough as it is. And while these problems would be ameliorated by a flat consumption tax and a reduced government commitment to welfare, they would hardly be eliminated.

And just because I love stroking my own ego, I should mention that even Jerry Pournelle likes my logic.

If our government still resembled the one defined by the constitution, I would have little problem with an open border. If our politicians were managers seeking to do the best job within the confines of their mandate, rather than power-mongers finding the best way to bribe and buy our affections, I would be all for an open border. If the doctrine of positive liberty were not on the rise, if freedom had not been redefined as comfort, I’d be alright. If we were still a constitutionally-restrained republic rather than a free-for all, I’d have a different opinion.

Neal Boortz often remarks that we don’t need to ship illegal immigrants out of the country, we merely have to remove the incentive for them to stay. Which is exactly how I’d prefer tackling the issue. But the reason I bring this up is actually to illustrate why I wouldn’t see a need for border restrictions if we lived under a classically liberal government. Immigration would self correct in response to basic market and social forces. Today however, both economic and social factors are dramatically altered by political machinations. The costs of many of the things that make this country such a great place from our excellent standards of healthcare, to our educational system, to our basic infrastructure are not paid by those who receive the benefits. When those who receive the benefits don’t pay the costs, bad things happen. This is the essence of economics, ecology, and game theory. And something we all should recognize.

So let me repeat. If this were a minarchist country, I would have a different position on the border. But it isn’t. And I want to protect what freedom I have left.

When Negotiation Is Merely Appeasement

We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analysing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will. I cannot believe that such a programme would be rejected by the people of this country, even if it does mean the establishment of personal contact with the dictators. –Neville Chamberlain

I found reading the words of the man who nearly brought destruction to the British Isles and Europe in the years leading up to World War II to be both enlightening and astonishing. Then-Prime Minister Chamberlain sounded not too dissimilar from how the American and European Left sound today. Whether speaking on the need to see things from the other’s point of view–no matter how barbaric–or the infallibility of diplomacy, it was like I was reading the latest missive from DailyKos or the most recent editorial in the New York Times.

Chamberlain was thankfully succeeded by a man of strong will and stronger judgment. One who was neither afraid of being blunt in words nor being decisive in action:

We ask no favours of the enemy. We seek from them no compunction. On the contrary, if tonight our people were asked to cast their vote whether a convention should be entered into to stop the bombing of cities, the overwhelming majority would cry, “No, we will mete out to them the measure, and more than the measure, that they have meted out to us.” The people with one voice would say: “You have committed every crime under the sun. Where you have been the least resisted there you have been the most brutal. It was you who began the indiscriminate bombing. We will have no truce or parley with you, or the grisly gang who work your wicked will. You do your worst – and we will do our best.” –Winston Churchill

In later years, Churchill criticized Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement, saying that it is nothing more than feeding others to a crocodile, hoping you’ll be the last to be consumed. What makes appeasement so dangerous–particularly from the Chamberlains of the world–is that they themselves may not realize what they are asking for:

This is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. –Neville Chamberlain

Central to their misguided belief is that peace is always possible. How they justify this central premise, I have never heard articulated in a logical manner. Men fight for many reasons. Sometimes they fight over property. Sometime over some slight–real or imagined–made by one against the other. But sometimes they fight because they hate the other with every fiber of their being. As in the case of the proverbial Hatfields and McCoys, it is entirely likely that conflicts of the latter kind are rooted–somewhere in the fog of antiquity–in disputes of a more tangible nature. Whatever their origin, when it comes to pass that one group defines themselves by their very hatred of the other, such matters become irrelevant.

Diplomacy can only provide a solution when the discord is directly tied to a given action or series of actions. When a state fights another, not because of who they are but because of what they did. In such cases, negotiation can provide the means to provide redress for the offending parties. The source of agitation now removed, peace is possible, indeed likely.

When the catalyst for one state’s aggression against the other isn’t what they did but who they are, there can be no peace. There can exist for a time an uneasy ceasefire. A hostile and brooding silence. But the roots of the conflict remain in place. Such an untenable situation is hardly to be desired, yet this is the limit to what negotiation can bring us. For while agreements between ambassadors and heads of state can silence the guns, they cannot change the hearts and minds of people.

What the West, Israel, and the parts of the East not already fallen face with Islamofascism is precisely the latter situation. Only intentional ignorance could lead one to any other conclusion. From the attempt to push Sharia in France and England, to the hostility of several immigrant muslim activism groups in the West, to of course the words of their own leaders, one can be left in little doubt as to the intentions of Islamic leaders. Just as Mohammed himself preached death to non-Muslims, so too do these groups. They hate the way we pray (or don’t pray), they hate the freedom we allow women even more than the freedom we allow men. They hate us for no reason but the fact that we are not them. And though many Muslims may not feel the same way, far too few will stand up against the despotic tyrants who cage their people and seek to murder us in our beds. There is no possibility of peace with men who hate you for who you are. Only an ephemeral and strained armistice.

If this is your goal, then by all means, engage in talks that will usher in your temporary truce. But know what it is you are asking for. Know that as long as you leave the men who hate you in power, they will be plotting your destruction, even as you drop your guard for the ‘peace’ you have bought.

Crossposted from Indian Cowboy

Defending Marriage

Thought it was a good time to put in my 2 cents. Especially since I’d already written about this issue a couple months ago.

I’m one of those people who don’t believe in gay marriage, but who does believe in civil unions. My reasoning is simple. Marriage is at its evolutionary root about altricial infants, paternal care, and sexual fidelity. In its biological and ecological basis it is identical to the monogamy displayed by the wolf, by south american monkeys, and by certain species of birds. Ergo, a homosexual couple literally cannot be married.

But there’s no denying that homosexuals are just as capable of loving and devoted relationships as heterosexual people–not to mention the fact that these days fewer heterosexual couples are really focused on the family (sorry for the pun), so why should they be denied the rights accorded to heterosexual couples who wish to make the arrangement semi-permanent?

In Defending Marriage, I argued that the best way to protect marriage is to get government completely out of it. There are two reasons for this:

1. Government-sanctioned marriage really is discriminatory. It is a state-enforced privilege offered to some adults but not others based on a choice they make. As such it goes against the core classical liberal principles of freedom of choice and individualism. Privileges for one group can only be maintained by penalties against another.

2. By allowing government to get involved in the marriage business, we politicize it. Marriage becomes not a cultural, historical, and biological phenomenon, but a political tool. And, as in all things of such a nature, marriage will be bent, twisted, and eventually broken in the quest for power.

On Problem 1:

The classical liberal position is one in which the philosophical perspective centers around the individual rather than society at large (which is merely a thin disguise for veneration of the state). Furthermore, the classical liberal position is that for an individual to be free, he must be able to do as he wishes so long as no direct harm comes to another. The flipside of this, of course, is that the state and/or society should have no direct role in the choices the individual makes. Marriage is fundamentally an agreement between two individuals; an agreement of sexual exclusivity, mutual fealty, and dedication to the rearing of their progeny. Marriage is a choice; two free individuals approach the altar, and two free individuals, one carrying the other and both slightly drunk, cross the threshold into the honeymoon suite.

The first problem is that government sanction and/or protection of marriage is essentially interfering with an individual’s choice, positive though the interference may be. In this way, marriage is no different from social welfare in that the state somehow subsidizes a person’s behavior. The second problem is that no individual has more inherent rights than another. Yet when the state sanctions, protects, and subsidizes marriage that is exactly what it proclaims; it gives preferential treatment to those individuals who make a certain choice. The third problem is that because state interference is largely positive, it negatively impacts those who didn’t make the choice to marry. As has been discussed at length, positive interference by the state of any kind represents a reduction of liberty.

We are thus left with the conclusion that state-sanctioned marriage simply does not fit in the classical liberal scheme.

On the second problem:

The problem is that once the state is allowed to grant preferential treatment to married couples, it must defend its decision to do so. Although the preceding section discussed the problematic nature of state-sanctioned marriage from a minarchist position, it must be remembered that Leftists are opportunistically individualists. Marriage happens to be one such issue where it suits them to drop the Statist cloak, if only for a time.

Leftists will reduce marriage down to economic privileges, whether shared tax forms or pooled bank accounts and assets. Or down to legal privileges such as the ‘next of kin’ designation available to the spouse but not to the ‘life partner’. Or even the 5th amendment spousal inclusion. They will then make the valid argument about the lack of equality before the law. Unfortunately, the way their nihilistic minds work is that instead of removing the preferential treatment, or making accordances for it through civil unions, they should redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.

And by allowing government to define the word and the concept of ‘marriage’ in the first place, we’ve given leftists the ability to change that definition both politically and culturally.

Most importantly, classical liberals have a healthy distrust for government; it’s one of our hallmarks. Why then should we allow marriage–a meaningful, beloved, and sacred institution–to become something that is defined and enforced by the government?

The solution is a simple one. Get the state out of marriage entirely. No privileges, no tax breaks, no legal protections. Not because marriage isn’t important or valuable. But because it is too valuable to leave in the all too corruptible hands of government. We take our philosophy from the founding fathers. And the historical progenitor of that philosophy was distrust of the state. They distrusted it because it was an inevitability that the state would stop serving the people it was created by. And thus that the more power the state had, the larger a hammer that could eventually be wielded against the people. The state is an evil, albeit a sometimes necessary one. Perhaps because of this it has been a hallmark of our philosophy that the more beloved the ideal, the less involvement of the state we’re willing to grant. By giving the state a role–no matter how small–in defining marriage, we’ve exposed a sacred concept to the same depredations that we fear would happen to our liberty and our property.

Save marriage. Get the state out of it.

1 2