Category Archives: Doublespeak

Is the White House “Going Galt” on Us?

randselfishIn a 2001 article entitled “The Virtue of Greed,” noted economist Walter Williams wrote: “YOU CAN CALL IT GREED, selfishness or enlightened self-interest, but the bottom line is that it’s these human motivations that get wonderful things done. Unfortunately, many people are naive enough to believe that it’s compassion, concern and ‘feeling another’s pain’ that’s the superior human motivation. As such, we fall easy prey to charlatans, quacks and hustlers.”

In what may become a new executive branch strategery to sell America on President Obama’s economic plan, White House National Economic Council Chair Lawrence Summers did what Glenn Reynolds and Ilya Somin are describing as channeling the fictional Oscar-winning Wall Street character Gordon Gekko (YouTube of speech below).  To be fair, Obama started it by calling on people to act in their own self-interest by making a few stock investments: “What you’re now seeing is, profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal if you’ve got a long term perspective on it.”

However, Obama’s motivation of selling his economic plan was revealed (emphasis added) in his very next sentence: “I think that consumer confidence — as they see the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act taking root, businesses are starting to see opportunities for investment and potential hiring, we are going to start creating jobs again.”

Here’s how Politico describes the Summers quote:

“In the past few years, we’ve seen too much greed and too little fear; too much spending and not enough saving; too much borrowing and not enough worrying,” Summers said Friday in a speech to the Brookings Institution. “Today, however, our problem is exactly the opposite.”

In remarks to a private dinner at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Summers was even blunter, according to an attendee: “Before, we had too much greed and too little fear. Now, we have too much fear and too little greed.”

“While greed is no virtue, entrepreneurship and the search for opportunity is what we need today,” Summers concluded. “We need a program that breaks these vicious cycles. We need to instill the trust that allows opportunity to overcome fear and enables families and businesses to again imagine a brighter future. And we need to create this confidence without allowing it to lead to unstable complacency.”

At times, Summers sounds like he could be quoting from Ayn Rand’s The Virtue of Selfishness. In reality, he’s promoting a program which has already caused Rand to rise from her grave.

Ordinarily, making Rand required reading around the White House would be considered a good thing.  However, such reading could turn into what Wikipedia describes as:

The political manipulation of language, by obfuscation, e.g. WAR IS PEACE. Using language to obfuscate meaning or to reduce and eliminate ideas and their meanings that are deemed dangerous to its authority.

and

The encouragement of “doublethink,” whereby the population must learn to embrace inconsistent concepts without dissent, e.g. giving up liberty for freedom. Similar terms used, are “doublespeak“, and “newspeak

America is still falling prey to the “charlatans, quacks and hustlers” Williams described.  Instead of using altruistic devices, the bad guys now seem to be toying with the use of Orwellian tactics.


Related reading:

Michelle Malkin’s take on what she’s describing as Obama’s 180 on fiscal policy messaging.

DailyKos: “Atlas Didn’t Shrug – John Galt 2009 is Staying

QandO: “Hayek, Greenspan And The Designs Of Men

Capitalism Magazine on the left’s reaction to the “Going Galt” theme

Is Obama a Socialist?

communist-manifestoWriting that “Calling Barack Obama’s plan socialistic lacks any class,” Albor Ruiz argues that “fear mongering over a ‘class war’ and an Obama conspiracy to turn the U.S. into a ‘socialist’ country is reaching a fever pitch.”

He then cites “Tax Hike Mike” Huckabee as an example:

Huckabee, no doubt, takes the cake. “Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff,” he has said with quasi-religious fervor. “The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may be dead, but a Union of American Socialist Republics is being born.”

First of all, citing Huckabee was a mistake, as he’s part of the problem and clearly not part of the solution.

My favored definition of socialism comes from Merriam-Webster: “ any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.”

This seems to describe the current administration, but there are other definitions which may or may not apply, as well.

If we are to pick an accurate word to describe Obama’s (to be fair, Bush laid the foundations which hadn’t already been established by previous administrations) designs on our children’s and even their children’s money, what should it be? If we are to better describe Obama’s move towards what Karl Marx called “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax,” how would we do it?

“Abolition of all right of inheritance?”  There is already talk of Obama toying with the Death Tax.

We may have moved from the Agrarian Age to the Information Age, but an “extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State” seems to apply to AIG fairly well. If seventeen percent of our gross domestic spending is on health care, additional government control of this industry would certainly apply.  Control of the automobile industry clearly involves factories and instruments of production. While Obama has backed off his call for a Car Czar, the fact remains that he certainly made the attempt and likely will again if he gets the opportunity.

“Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.”  Bush got a good start on transporation with the implementation of various TSA schemes and implementation of the Fairness Doctrine would move us closer to Marxism on the communications front.

While “a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly,” may not precisely describe the Federal Reserve, for many intents and purposes it does.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac seem a major starting point for “centralisation of credit in the hands of the State.”  Purchasing shares and attaching federal strings to bank bailouts is certainly a big move in this direction.

Perhaps Mr. Ruiz is correct.  Should we be calling Obama’s attempted takeover of major portions of our economy while further redistributing the wealth socialist or Marxist?  Not that one necessarily excludes the other.

In reality, it all boils down to one simple question: Does it really matter if we call current policy socialism or a crap sandwich? It tastes the same either way.

Doublespeak — We’re Not Going To Nationalize

What would they call this, then?

A new Citigroup deal has finally been announced by the Treasury. The government will convert $25 billion in preferred shares to common shares. The move could give the Treasury close to a 36% stake in the company. The government’s influence is becoming apparent. Citi will eliminate its dividend and is facing pressure to participate in a new foreclosure prevention programme.

Doublespeak Of The Day

From Ezra Klein:

Over the weekend, I asked Henry Aaron, an economist at Brookings, whether it would be fair to say that the definition of fiscal responsibility had changed. Where once it meant entitlement cuts, now it meant an attention to health reform.

“Yeah,” he said. “That’s exactly right.”

Ahh, I see… Instead of trying to find ways to spend less of our money — or at least to make such spending sustainable over the long term, they’re just going to spend more of it on something else.

I guess if we’re talking about Doublespeak, I think it’s becoming clear that “Hope and Change” equals “Tax and Spend” in Obama’s dictionary.

Threat Of Budget Cuts Always Hit The Popular Programs

Michigan’s in some trouble, and as usual, when government starts threatening budget cuts, it’s always to the programs people like:

Under Granholm’s proposal, this year’s Michigan State Fair, which runs Aug. 28 to Sept. 7 at the corner of Eight Mile and Woodward Avenue in Detroit, would be the last after 160 years. The state is already in discussions to sell or lease the 164-acre parcel.

The prospect of closing the fair is painful to longtime fairgoers, who came every year to see the “World’s Largest Stove,” the storied band shell and the popular Miracle of Life exhibit where children can see farm animals born.

“I love it all. We sit out there in our wheelchairs all day and see the sights,” said Irma Henderson, 72, of Detroit, who has shown her quilts at the fair. “It’s the only thing I look forward to in the summer. Why is the governor taking the State Fair away from us seniors?”

Ahh, yes… Because when the State stops throwing huge expensive parties, it’s ‘taking something away’. Especially when budgets come up, the government “tries” to axe the politically popular programs. The goal is to get enough of an uproar from the public that they don’t have to cut anything. It’s the typical false dilemma fallacy, where the choice is cut here or don’t cut at all.

The article points out, though, that maybe this is a time to call their bluff. The State Fair is superfluous in a state which hosts several agricultural fairs, including one at a state university much closer to the ag centers of Michigan. Detroit is not very near to the center of agriculture, and most Detroit residents aren’t farmers.

If Governor Granholm is really trying to make a tough political call here, more power to her. But if not — if she’s just trying to send up a political weather balloon — I hope it crashes down on her head. She can be known throughout Michigan as the grinch who stole the State Fair.

Hat Tip: dispatches from TJICistan

Rush Limbaugh Proposes $540 Billion Corporate Welfare Package

rushtime Move over McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy and McCain-Lieberman.  We’ve now got the Limbaugh-Obama Bipartisan Economic Recovery Package (AKA LOBERP, pronounced like “low burp”).  Here’s the description provided over at The Next Right:

Mine is a genuine compromise.  So let’s look at how the vote came out, shall we?  Fifty-three percent of voters in this country — we’ll say, for the sake of this proposal, 53% of Americans — voted for Obama.  Forty-six percent voted for Senator McCain, and 1% voted for wackos.  Let’s give the remaining 1% to President Obama, so let’s say that 54% voted for President Obama and 46% voted for Senator McCain.  As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009, $540 billion of the one trillion will be spent on infrastructure as defined by President Obama and the Democrats.  The remaining $460 billion, or 46% that voted for Senator McCain, will be directed towards tax cuts, as determined by me.

Let’s take a quick look at what really happens when the Doctor of Democracy and the Messiah decide to fiscally copulate.  Either Limbaugh is actually dumb enough to believe that Congress will actually deliver that $460 billion is returned to our own wallets, or he is nefarious enough to ensure that the tax cuts would go where he directs.  Of course, there would be no conflict-of-interest for someone to be holding the strings to a $460 billion government purse while also collecting advertising revenue for his radio program.

Then of course, by proposing this plan, we now have evidence that Limbaugh is endorsing a $540 billion stimulus package and he trusts President Obama and the Democrats to define (so long as it is infrastructure related) how it will be spent.

One might think that a self-described fiscal conservative would have the testicular fortitude to say ALL federal bailouts are bad.  He could have said something along the lines of “zero dollars for increased government spending.”  “Not one dime for corporate welfare” would have been acceptable, too.  He could have at least spoken out against deficit spending.  Instead of arguing on principle, he decided to give President Obama and the Dems $540 billion dollars out of wallets — and the wallets of our children and our grandchildren.

Rush Limbaugh currently wants control over 54 percent of this booty in the latest episode of the federal spending orgy.  He’s joined with the mainstream media and the Democrats who think that bailouts are sexy.  Rush, you can voluntarily give Obama as much money as you like out of your wallet.  Convince your ditto-heads to mail in the rest of the trillion bucks. Don’t even think about playing grab ass with my wallet, though.

UPDATE for the ditto heads: Rush Limbaugh spews erroneous conclusions, crap and conjecture on a daily basis. He calls it “entertainment.” I thought I’d give it a shot, too. And what better target could be found for some specious speculation than el Rushbo himself?

Orwell Couldn’t Have Named It Better

From WaPo:

The George W. Bush Presidential Center will include a “Freedom Institute” focused on a broad portfolio of topics, including the expansion of democracy abroad and education reforms of the kind Bush implemented during his presidency, according to organizers.

Aside from a few really minor issues which defined the Bush presidency (i.e. torture, Gitmo, Patriot Act, NSA wiretaps, corruption, Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, gay marriage, the drug war — and of course, the Iraq War), I suppose we could call George W. Bush somewhat freedom oriented.

By the same token, we could call FDR a hero of small government, Nixon law-abiding, Johnson clean-mouthed and Kennedy true to his marriage vows.

Depends on What the Meaning of the Word “Torture” Is

“As I’ve said before, the United States does not torture,” said President Bush in 2006.  “It’s against our laws and it’s against our values.”

The AP brings us the latest episode of the other half of the story:

“We tortured Qahtani,” Crawford said, making her the first senior Bush administration official to say that aggressive interrogation techniques had crossed the line.

“His treatment met the legal definition of torture, and that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution, she said.

Al-Qahtani in October 2006 recanted a confession he said he made after he was tortured and humiliated at Guantanamo.

The alleged torture, which he detailed in a written statement, included being beaten, restrained for long periods in uncomfortable positions, threatened with dogs, exposed to loud music and freezing temperatures and stripped nude in front of female personnel.

As the aftermath of Gitmo begins, Andrew Sullivan provides one workable definition of the word “torture:”

The definition of torture is when the victim has no effective choice but to say something, true or false, to end the ordeal. You can bring a victim to that point of surrender of his or her soul and will in many different ways.

In the meantime, some people partially responsible for 9/11 may never be prosecuted because of the irresponsible, illegal and immoral acts of the soon-to-be previous administration.

Another Permanent State of Emergency

Many people have expressed a hope that Barack Obama will be an improvement over George Bush and that he will roll back some of George Bush’s excesses.  They see in Obama a man who understands nuanced argument, who at least acknowledges that those who oppose his policies can have good reasons and arguments for doing so.  However, those who are so hopeful are doomed to have their hopes dashed.  Barack Obama may give of good vibes, but a review of his policy papers show nothing more than a few crumbs of freedom thrown to the people.  Make no mistake, under Barack Obama’s leadership, the federal government will seize more wealth, violate more liberties and wreck the economy more thoroughly than George Bush did.  The Obama administration will permit, nay encourage, the looting of the treasury by their cronies to a degree that not even the Bush administration dared to.  Reading his policy aims, I see that he offers us no quarter, no accommodation.  He demands that the American people hand over more of the wealth they create, and threatens them with more pervasive monitoring and violence in order to ensure their compliance with his edicts.  He wishes to rework society – to impose his vision of how society ‘ought’ to be organized – using the state security apparatus to impose his dreams.

In every policy proposal, one sees the same theme, the expansion of government, in size, in scope and power.  Typical is his proposal as to how the government will begin respecting civil liberties:  rather than ordering the justice department to respect civil liberties in the court system by voluntarily complying with historical precedents governing government power, rather than announcing his intention to rip out the listening rooms used by the NSA to eavesdrop on the communications of the citizenry, he announces his intention to create a ‘civil liberties board’, with subpoena powers.  If the attorney general of the United States lacks the power to enforce respect for civil liberties, or even worse, is disinclined to respect them, how will the addition of this board alter the calculus?  No, this board will provide sinecures to political allies and something to point to when questioned about his respect for civil liberties while allowing the Justice Department, the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security to continue the business as usual, that of exercising their powers lawlessly and without limit, in furtherance of the public and private aims of the officials staffing them.

Nowhere in his policies does he announce his intention to relinquish control of anything that the government currently controls.  That which the Federal Government controls today, the government will continue to control under the new administration.  Much of which is currently out of its control today they will seek to bring under its control.

According to the Obama administration, the current economic crisis warrants expanding government spending well beyond George Bush’s record-breaking levels.  Only in passing does he acknowledge the need to raise money for this spending, which will have to be either through increased taxation, borrowing or via the printing of new money.   The U.S. economy will not provide enough in taxes or in loans to pay for this spending.  It is incapable of it.  Thus, we will see the Federal Government borrowing from anyone who will loan it money, and when those sources of funding dry up, from the Federal Reserve, which pays for the bonds it purchases with newly printed money.  The ‘inflation rate’, so called, already near 10% according to the calculation method in use in the 1970’s will rise to much higher levels.  In the meantime the standard of living will stagnate, and in all likelihood decline.  Nor is there any plan to end this spending once the economy exits the crisis.  This, like the Global War on Terror, is yet one more open-ended emergency.

And when these policies fail to have their intended effects, as unemployment continues to soar and prices continue to rise, it is inevitable that the Obama administration will blame people who it sees as standing in the way of their policies.  The Obama administration will be tempted to go after bankers, intellectual opponents, industrialists, and corporate offices in exactly the same manner as when FDR excorciated bankers and industrialists.  And, like Wilson, FDR, Nixon, Clinton, and many others, the Obama administration will be tempted to use the state security apparatus against these enemies, citing the economic state of emergency to justify it. So now the U.S. will not only be under a permanent state of emergency against external enemies, it will be in a state of emergency.  This time the enemy won’t be people living a continent away…  It will be us.

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

The Un-American Pledge of Allegiance

One aspect common to totalitarian regimes is the forced loyalty oath. Nazi Germany, for example, forced all pastors, civil servants and soldiers to take an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler. In the Soviet Union, in Communist China, and numerous other nations, the state demanded that people swear loyalty to the government as a condition for a jobs, for education, or to receive any service that the state had arrogated for itself. Typically regimes demand routine public displays of loyalty before everyday events such as sporting events, theater performances, or the beginning of the school or work day.

Why do totalitarian regimes demand that people publicly announce their loyalty and subservience? The answer is simple – the totalitarian regime typically does not have the people’s willing loyalty. Rather, they must compel the people’s loyalty. And, if they can’t have the real thing, a fake version is just fine. The forced loyalty oath is a sign of a unpopular regime, that fears the people because it acts in a manner that not in the people’s interest.

Is the forced loyalty oath ineffective? Are totalitarian regimes fooling themselves, making people say empty words that the people don’t believe? To the contrary, the forced loyalty oath is common because it is very effective, being one of the cruelest attacks on freedom.

The forced loyalty oath attacks the freedom of speech. With it, the regime seizes control of a person’s mouth, and compels that mouth to say words that its rightful owner wishes not to say. The monstrosity of the crime arises from the fact that it is through our words that we construct society. It is with our words that we build our bonds with our fellow men. We are social animals, we need to talk to our fellows for our basic sanity. That is why one of the cruelest punishments that men visit upon each other is solitary confinement. Seize control of a man’s words, and you have effectively imprisoned him in his skull. That is why I feel that the right to speech is second to the right to life.

While most people recognize that that the freedom of speech is the right of every person to say whatever he or she wants to say, they often forget that it also includes the right of every person to not say things that he or she does not want to say. Forcing a person to say what he does not want to say is as bad as gagging him and silencing him.

We can decry pictures of children standing at attention wearing the red scarf of the Young Pioneers uniforms or the shorts of the Hitler Jugend as adults order them to pledge their undying loyalty to a state that plunders them and enslaves them. However, the sad fact is that while many Americans who would condemn other nations in a heartbeat for demanding such false displays of loyalty are supporters to a systematic version of it being practiced here at home.

Every day, millions of children living in the U.S. are compelled to utter the following words:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all.”

Allegiance is a state of loyalty or devotion. A declaration of allegiance is not something to be taken lightly. It is a modern form of a declaration of fealty, the oath that a person took under feudalism that bound him to obey his lord’s commands, even unto death. The oath these children are ordered to make is loyalty not to any idea or set of principles, but to a flag, a symbol of the state. Change three words, and a Cuban child could utter it in devotion to Castro, a North Korean to the government of Kim Il Sung, a Scottish child to the British Queen or a French child to the Republic. This emptiness did not go unnoticed to the public who demanded that politicians correct the matter. They did not want to give it any principle that would challenge the legitimacy of the state, so they decided to add a loyalty oath to God to distinguish it. Of course, God is conveniently very lax in enforcing such oaths and so no practical impediment to the power of the state. Furthermore, I am told that the champions of adding a religious component to the oath carried the day by arguing that no “godless communist” could take the oath, marking them for ostracism.

It is not surprising that public schools make this demand of children. From their inception in 1642 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, U.S. government schools have had on main purpose: to indoctrinate children in the religion or mores that the state feels most useful. Useful skills like reading and writing, critical thinking, knowledge of the arts and sciences are all secondary to the goal of indoctrination. In the case of Massachusetts, the schools were originally intended to induct the children into the state’s official version of Protestant Christianity rather than the heresies of their parents. In modern times, the religion is not some strain of Christianity, but rather the worship of the state. One can see this in the original version of the pledge, which is short and to the point:

Text Meaning
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: I will be loyal to the state and obey it’s commands.
one Nation The state is the people
indivisible People are not allowed to secede or withdraw from the state.
With Liberty and Justice for all.
Standard boilerplate conditions that all states, from Iceland to the People’s Republic of North Korea, claim to establish for the people under their control.

The details of the pledge are damning. The person who makes it is claiming not only loyalty to the state, but a loyalty that is devoid of any principles and irrevocable under any conditions.

The change to add “under God” does nothing to lessen the totalitarian nature of the pledge other than to make the laughable claim that the state is subservient to God.

The United States was originally founded as a nation of conscience. We can see this in an odd passage early in the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation, signed in 1794. This was the treaty which reestablished diplomatic relations between Britain and the United States of America. In it the U.S. government made the following pledge towards British subjects remaining in the former colonies after the British Army evacuated it:

“All settlers and traders, within the precincts or jurisdiction of the said posts, shall continue to enjoy, unmolested, all their property of every kind, and shall be protected therein. They shall be at full liberty to remain there, or to remove with all or any part of their effects; and it shall also be free to them to sell their lands, houses or effects, or to retain the property thereof, at their discretion; such of them as shall continue to reside within the said boundary lines, shall not be compelled to become citizens of the United States, or to take any oath of allegiance to the Government thereof; but they shall be at full liberty so to do if they think proper.”

Every few years, some organization sues a school district because it compels children to state the pledge with the clause “under God”. These suits invariably claim that it violates the clause in the U.S. Constitution forbidding the establishment of a state religion. Unfortunately, these lawsuits miss the main point. The human rights violation is not that children are forced to pledge their loyalty to God – t is the fact that the children are forced to make any loyalty oath at all!

The pledge of allegiance is not compatible with a free country. Written by a socialist who sought to indoctrinate children with the idea that they should be servants of the state, it opposes the very principles underlying the Declaration of Independence. It is the duty of every patriotic American, whose loyalties are to those principles rather than some flag or body of men, to oppose it. Let the enemies of freedom distinguish themselves by compelling people to take oaths against their will. Let us once again embrace freedom and expel the rotten pledge of allegiance from our schools.

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

Gay Marriage, Religious Rights, and Freedom of Association

California’s Proposition 8, the ballot measure aiming to outlaw same sex marriage, passed on a very close vote. Prop 8’s supporters* pushed a campaign of fear, misinformation, and a complete distortion of the meaning of individual liberty. This campaign commercial is typical of the intolerance and hysteria being promoted from the “yes” campaign.

Argument #1: Churches could be forced to marry gay people.

Argument #2: Religious adoption agencies could be forced to allow gay couples to adopt children; some adoption agencies would close their doors as a result.

Argument #3: Those who speak out against gay marriage on religious grounds will be labeled “intolerant” and subjected to legal penalties or social ridicule. Careers could be threatened.

Argument #4: Schools will teach students that marriage is between “party a” and “party b” regardless of gender. Schools also teach health and sexuality and would now include discussions of homosexuality.

Argument #5: There will be “serious clashes” between public schools and parents who wish to teach their children their values concerning marriage.

Argument #6: Allowing gays to marry will restrict or eliminate liberties of “everyone.” (Example: Photographers who do not want to work at same sex weddings)

Argument #7: If Prop 8 fails, religious liberty and free speech rights will be adversely affected.

My response to these arguments is that we should be advocating for more freedom for everyone rather than restrict freedom of a group or class of people. The state should recognize the same contract rights** for a gay couple as it would between a man and a woman. To get around the whole definition of marriage issue, I would propose that as far as the state is concerned, any legally recognized intimate relationship between consenting adults should be called a “domestic partnership.” From there the churches or secular equivalent to churches should have the right to decide who they will marry and who they will not (just as they do now).

Rather than subject an individual’s rights to a vote or either party forcing their values on the other, we should instead advocate freedom of association and less government in our everyday lives. Somewhere along the way, we as a people decided that the government should involve itself more and more into the relationships of private actors. The government now has the ability to dictate to business owners quotas of who they must hire, family leave requirements, how much their employees must be paid, and how many hours they work (among other requirements). For the most part, businesses which serve the public cannot deny service to individuals for fear of a lawsuit.

A return to a freedom of association society would remedy arguments 1, 2, 6, and 7 from this ad. As to Argument #3, the anti-gay marriage folks are going to have to realize that in a free society, they are going to have to deal with “social ridicule”*** or being called intolerant. Anyone who takes a stand on any issue is going to be criticized and called names. In a freedom of association society, an employer would have every right to decide to layoff individuals who hold views or lifestyles they disagree with.

While we’re on the subject of intolerance, perhaps we should take a moment to consider if people who would deny equivalent rights which come with marriage are intolerant. This ad is exactly the same as the previous ad except that the words “same sex” and “gays” have been replaced with “interracial.”

Believe it or not, there was a time in this country when there were such laws against interracial marriage. Those who argued against interracial marriage made very similar arguments to what the anti-gay marriage people are making now. Today most of us would say those people were intolerant.

Intolerance aside, Arguments 4 and 5 can also be answered by reducing the role of government in our lives. What the “yes” people should be arguing for is a separation of school and state. While we as a nation are trending toward more government involvement in K-12 education, those who do not want the government schools to teach their children the birds and the bees or enter into discussions of homosexuality can put their children in private schools which share their values or home school. School Choice is the obvious answers to these concerns.

Prop 8’s supporters have turned the whole idea of individual liberty on its head. They claim that in order to preserve the rights of the greatest number of people a minority of people necessarily must sacrifice their rights. This is absurd and dangerous. Perhaps it is this complete misunderstanding of individual rights among Californians which contributed to Prop 8’s passage.

When explained properly, the rights of life, liberty, and property is the easiest concept to understand.

Hat Tip: The Friendly Atheist

Posted Elsewhere:

Dan Melson @ Searchlight Crusade has written a very thought provoking post on this issue. Some of his arguments I agree with, others I don’t but all of his points are well argued.

» Read more

One Libertarian’s Advice for Republicans and Republican Leaders

If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism […] The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.

-Ronald Reagan (1975)

For the second election in a row, you find yourselves on the losing end. A significant majority of Americans have lost confidence in you and your lack of vision.

As you debate amongst yourselves the reasons why you lost the White House as well as numerous seats in both houses of Congress, perhaps this former Republican who has flirted with the Libertarian Party* over the last decade can offer you some helpful advice and constructive criticism. While I do not presume to speak on behalf of the many thousands of disillusioned former libertarian- leaning small government Republicans who were once a valued voting bloc in Ronald Reagan’s “conservative coalition,” I am quite certain that there are many others who would agree with my appraisal of why you find yourselves in the position you are in.

President-Elect Barack Obama is wrong about a great many things but one thing he (and his party) has which you do not is clearly defined principles and the ability to communicate these principles effectively. I know what the Democratic Party stands for, what does the Republican Party stand for?

I know what the modern meanings of the terms “liberal” and “progressive” mean, but I have no idea what the modern meaning of the term “conservative” means. I have recently seen polls which ask the following question:

The Republicans lost the election because

a. The Republican Party is too conservative

b. The Republican Party is not conservative enough

I find this question to be impossible to answer!

If by “conservative” one means a party which appeals almost exclusively to white Christian male culture warriors whose primary agenda is using the police power of government to accomplish desired political goals, then my answer would be “a.”

If by “conservative” one means promoting the rights of life, liberty, and property then clearly, my answer would be “b.”

I do not believe the ambiguity of the term “conservative” is by accident. “Conservative” is every bit the nebulous term as we have heard ad nauseam from the Obama campaign (i.e. “hope” and “change”). Because these terms are so under defined, each person who hears these buzzwords assigns his or her own meaning to them. I seem to recall every candidate in the Republican primary refer to himself as a “conservative” or even a “Reagan conservative” at one time or another. How is it possible that candidates with philosophical differences as stark as that of Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani both claim to be conservative?

Now that I have pointed out your apparent error of asking the wrong question (garbage in, garbage out right?) to try to regain the trust of a majority of voters, I believe it is time for you to explain what exactly a conservative is. My understanding of the term is more in line with what Barry Goldwater described in Conscience of a Conservative** as opposed to what the Republican Party has offered in the 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008 campaigns.

I realize that a political party cannot be all things to all people but all of your constituents deserve to have a clear understanding of where your party is going. Does this mean that moving forward that you will have to choose between two very large voting blocs – small government conservatives and social conservatives?

This depends completely on how you choose to frame the issues. Where the Republican Party seems to stand now is that government can and should be used to force individuals to behave a certain way***. This approach is completely at odds with the small government conservative approach that undesirable behavior can be changed with the power of persuasion**** rather than force.

Is it possible that the Libertarian Party has an approach that a majority of social conservatives could live with? Perhaps you could learn something from The 2008 Libertarian Party Platform:

(From the Preamble)

As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.

We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.

Consequently, we defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.

This approach to governance that the Libertarian Party offers is why I have left the Republican Party and voted accordingly. Thus far, I have not seen any evidence that your party will become the party of smaller government, lower taxes, and more freedom. Some of the names I have heard bandied about as the “new face” of the Republican Party such as Mitt “Romney Care” Romney, Sarah “I can see Russia from my house” Palin, and “Tax Hike Mike” Huckabee suggests that you are yet to learn why small government conservatives are leaving in droves.

This is not to say that you 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.

Until that day comes, I will continue to support the Libertarian Party and only support Republicans who demonstrate in word and deed their wishes to shrink the size, scope, and power of government.

» Read more

Doublespeak of The Day

Yesterday from Obama (google cache here, screenshot here):

Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.

Obama today:

Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free.

He’s going to “set a goal”, and I’m sure before all is said and done, it will be dangerously close to a requirement.

It’s already scary, and it’s still more than 2 months before he actually becomes President.

The Credit Crisis: A Bipartisan “Achievement”

First, President Bush in 2002 pushes for increased home “ownership” regardless of creditworthiness.

Second, despite what Nancy Pelosi says, the Democrats most certainly did their part to help President Bush succeed in his “ownership society.” These Democrats who scream that this credit crisis is a result of lax regulations didn’t much appreciate the regulators when they warned that Freddie and Fannie were in trouble as early as 2004.

The recent rescue package bailout was also a bipartisan “achievement.” Despite these bipartisan efforts, as of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped to 9720 (-235 so far today).

In tonight’s debate we can almost certainly count on John McCain and Barack Obama talking about “bipartisanship” and how each will “reach across the aisle” to get things done. As McCain and Obama reach across the aisle, we’ll be reaching for our ankles and say “Thank you Mistress Helga, may I please have another?”

That’s exactly what we are going to do. We are going to elect one of these two collectivists into the White House in just a few weeks and we are going to send Democrats and Republicans back to the House and the Senate and ask them to abuse us more.

Make no mistake: this credit crisis is a bipartisan government achievement. What it is NOT is a failure of the free market.

Quote Of The Day — Orwell Would Be Proud

McCain on the Campaign trail, referring to the massive Treasury power-grab:

“The first thing I would do is say, ‘Let’s not call it a bailout. Let’s call it a rescue,’” McCain told CNN. He said, “Americans are frightened right now” and political leaders must give them an immediate solution and a longer-term approach to the problem.

Yes, let’s not call it an enormous power-grab by the Treasury to buy worthless assets for too much money in order to save a bunch of rich folks who made very bad decisions. That’s not a very good spin. How about “A bipartisan Congressional program to restore stability to the economy so that American families can better plan for their future.” That sounds much better.

Sure, call it a rescue instead of a bailout. Put lipstick on that pig, too, but let’s not pretend it’s no longer a pig.

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

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

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

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

Inconvenient Convention Facts and Fictions Exposed

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

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

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

A few observations:

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

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

» Read more

Maybe They Should Call It ‘The Cheese-Maker’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to Serve Your Country? Well, What’s Stopping You!

Time has an ongoing series which advocates the need for “voluntary” national service. In the magazine’s latest article by Managing Editor Richard Stengel, the author praises both John McCain and Barack Obama for their urging of Americans to “serve interests greater than self.”

It is a unique moment for the idea of national service. You have two presidential candidates who believe deeply in service and who have made it part of their core message to voters. You have millions of Americans who are yearning to be more involved in the world and in their communities. You have corporations and businesses that are making civic engagement a key part of their mission.

If “millions of Americans” wish to be “more involved” in service to others and “their communities” what’s stopping them? Do we really need a President McCain or President Obama to force “inspire” these Americans to serve their fellow Americans? Is their really a “volunteer” deficit?

In Stengel’s original article on this subject A Time to Serve he seems to suggest the opposite:

Polls show that while confidence in our democracy and our government is near an all-time low, volunteerism and civic participation since the ’70s are near all-time highs. Political scientists are perplexed about this. If confidence is so low, why would people bother volunteering? The explanation is pretty simple. People, especially young people, think the government and the public sphere are broken, but they feel they can personally make a difference through community service.

I fail to see the problem here. If people do not have confidence in the government, this is a very good thing*! Ordinary Americans are helping others on their own volition, not because some politician told them to do so.

Despite this seemingly positive news, this isn’t enough for Stengel:

[T]he way to keep the Republic — is universal national service. No, not mandatory or compulsory service but service that is in our enlightened self-interest as a nation. We are at a historic junction; with the first open presidential election in more than a half-century, it is time for the next President to mine the desire that is out there for serving and create a program for universal national service that will be his — or her — legacy for decades to come. It is the simple but compelling idea that devoting a year or more to national service, whether military or civilian, should become a countrywide rite of passage, the common expectation and widespread experience of virtually every young American.

Am I missing something here? How does a president “persuade” people who otherwise would not be inclined to national service without using some form of coercion? Toward the end of the article, Stengel offers a 10-point plan on how the next president should implement a national service agenda:

1. Create a National-Service Baby Bond (a.k.a. forced wealth distribution)

2. Make National Service a Cabinet-Level Department (a.k.a. taking money from citizens to pay for another Bureaucracy)

3. Expand Existing National-Service Programs Like AmeriCorps and the National Senior Volunteer Corps

4. Create an Education Corps

5. Institute a Summer of Service (a.k.a. teenagers serving the government to learn that all great things come from government)

6. Build a Health Corps (a.k.a. “volunteers” helping low income people access government healthcare programs which they are not already taking advantage of such as SCHIP)

7. Launch a Green Corps (similar to FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps but would improve infrastructure and combat climate change).

8. Recruit a Rapid-Response Reserve Corps (a.k.a. volunteers doing the job the National Guard traditionally does in the wake of natural disasters).

9. Start a National-Service Academy (a.k.a. a school to train government workers)

10. Create a Baby-Boomer Education Bond (a.k.a. forced wealth distribution).

In one way or another, every one of these proposals requires government to use force**. While this form of coercion is not as visible as directly “drafting” people into government service, make no mistake, coercion is still very much part of the equation.

To Time’s credit, the magazine did offer a counterpoint to Stengel’s article. Michael Kinsley calls B.S. on this whole notion of national service (particularly on the part of young people):

One of the comforts of middle age — a stage that the editor of TIME and I have both reached — is that you can start making demands on young people, safe in the knowledge that they won’t apply to you. Having safely escaped the Vietnam era draft ourselves, we are overcome by the feeling that the next generation should not be so lucky. Many of these young folks are volunteering for socially beneficial work, and that’s good. But it’s not good enough. “Volunteerism” is so wonderful that every young person should have to do it.

[…]

I’m perfectly prepared to believe that today’s young people are deplorable specimens, ignorant and ungrateful and in desperate need of discipline. Or I am also prepared to believe that they are about to burst with idealism like a piñata and only await somebody with a giant pin. But they aren’t the only ones who could use a lesson about social obligation. What about grownups? Grownups, who still have some hope of collecting Social Security and Medicare before they go broke, who have enjoyed the explosion in house prices that make the prospect of home ownership so dim for the next generation; who allowed the government to run up a gargantuan national debt, were miraculously bailed out of that, and immediately allowed it to be run up a second time; who may well have gone to college when tuition was cheap and you didn’t automatically graduate burdened by student loans. We are not in much of a position to start dreaming up lessons in social obligation for the kids.

As I pointed out in my last post, many people are in favor of “service” and “sacrifice” if it is being done by someone else. Kinsley also points out that the answer to serving the needs of others is good old fashioned Capitalism!***

Let’s be honest. If you really want to “serve your country/community/world,” again I ask you: What’s stopping you? Your level of service has not one thing to do with who occupies the White House at any given time.

» Read more

1 2 3 4 5