Category Archives: Freedom

Government Is Not Society

One of the most pernicious beliefs held by Americans is the conflation of the state with society. This belief is causing them acquiesce to government actions that threaten the destruction of American civilization if not stopped.

The word society comes to us from the Latin societas, which meant a group of people bound by friendship or a common interest.  The societies we participate in are the manifold groups that people join in order to accomplish various goals, for protection, for commerce, for companionship.  When compared to a life of autarky, of isolated independence, the benefits of societies become clear.  The defining characteristic of society is that membership in a society is voluntary. Whenever a person feels that a society no longer meets their needs, they can exit it – choosing another one to replace it or even going without.

Of course, one of the primary functions of the societies we join are to fulfill those needs we have that we cannot fulfill ourselves.  We depend on our families, friends, fraternal organizations, etc to care for us when we are sick, to provide for us when we cannot provide for ourselves.  These acts of charity, when provided to us by people who do it voluntarily using the means that they have acquired through peaceful means, are a necessary component of civilization.  Remove charitable interactions from society and we cease to live in a state of civilization and return to a state of barbarism.

The state, on the other hand, is an organization that is distinguished by violent action.  It acquires resources not through peaceful economic interaction but through threats of violence.  When it threatens wrong-doers – such as thieves, rapists or murderers – it can be useful; scaring other would be thieves, rapists and murderers from committing similar crimes. But all too often, such as when it orders the destruction of livestock in order to raise the market price of meat, it is a social bad that leaves everyone worse off.

The state is powerful.  It can commandeer vast resources.  It does not have to make anything; it does not need to trade for anything;  it merely takes what it wants.  However, the state is not all powerful; tomorrow the people could rise up and hang all the officers of the state from the lamp-posts.  Its officers must ensure that their plunder or violence does not rise to such a level as to incite too much active resistance.   These men and women therefore promote the fiction that the state is not a predator but engaged in trade with the people, exchanging protection and other services for “contributions” as they term the taxes they extort from the populace.

Over the last 100 years, the state has systematically weakened or coopted the institutions of society.  It has, via the welfare system, taken over much of the provisioning of charity.  It controls commerce via regulation.  It dicates what insurance companies can and cannot do.  It tightly controls medical care.  Most dangerously, it has taken over the education of the young. And everything it has taken over has taken on the characteristics that typically accompany violence and extortion; shoddy service, excessive prices or compelled payments, and draconian punishments.

And far too many people, never having experienced society where these institutions or social needs were provisioned voluntarily rather than by the state, are left ignorant of any idea that that is even possible.  And so, when they are warned that Medicare and Social Security threaten economic ruin, they think that the speaker is contemplating casting the old and sick out on the street to die.  When they hear a call for the abolition of govenrment schooling, they imagine the speaker must want the broad mass of children to be left uneducated.  When they hear the call for the end of medical licensing or pharmaceutical regulations, they imagine that people will be subjected to all sorts of quackery. When they hear a call for an end of standing armies and the purchase of expensive weapons systems, they imagine that the speaker must naively want to invite a tyrant to waltz in and take over.

Too many people, no doubt from their experiences in schools where the classrooms are presided over mostly benevolent dictators called teachers, assume that society must be arranged in a similar vein, with leaders who make and enforce the rules, where there is no right of refusal or exit.

In the end, though, while it can commandeer impressive resources, and thus accomplish mighty things, the state invariably consumes more and produces less than organizations that it replaces.  It replaces the civilization of people voluntarily bonding together with the barbarism of compelled relationships, compelled production and compelled trade.

Today, the various governments that rule over Americans, taken together, commandeer or consume some 40% of production.  The more production the government seizes, the worse off we will be.  The greater the control government exercises over society, the worse off we all are.

One way to put things in perspective is, when considering how some need is to be supplied, to ask if you would be comfortable with the Mafia providing it.  After all, the mafia is really a proto-government, using extortion and violence to commandeer resources. Both are protection rackets, although the Mafia takes far less than the government.  While most people wouldn’t be too upset with the idea of the mafia punishing a rapist, most would laugh derisively at the idea of the mafia running a school, or operating a hospital.  This recognition arises from the fact that no-one conflates the Mafia with society.  If only they were so wise about the state!

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.

Independence 1776. Independence 201x?

From the time of 1765 forward, the American people, in fits and starts, began moving closer and closer to breaking ties with Britain and declaring independence. They grew increasingly angry at being dragged into [or paying for] the wars of the Crown. The King had largely held a hands-off approach with the colonies, who largely learned the self-governance necessary to carve a new nation out of wilderness. As the colonies became more prosperous, though, the King saw potential. He saw the potential to tax them as Englishmen but without giving them the full rights and representation of those in the home country. He tried to impose English hands-on governance upon a people who had learned to exist without such meddling. And this meddling was NOT appreciated.

We focus, and rightly so, a lot of energy and time on the Declaration of Independence and July 4, 1776. It is the watershed moment in our rise from loosely-joined colonies into a nation. But there’s more to the story.

For those who view today’s America as the culmination of the vision of the founders, it is right to view Independence Day as a day of remembrance of things past. For those of us who consider our current government (being the establishment since the New Deal and only accelerated by GWB and BHO) to be antithetical to the ideals that founded this nation and still rest latent within its people, it’s instructive to look at this from a far wider perspective.

July 4, 1776, and the Declaration of Independence, was one of the most important steps in the American Revolution. But it was only a step, and that step was squarely in the middle of the game, not the beginning. In fact, it occurred over a year after armed hostilities erupted at Lexington and Concord, and the Battle of Bunker Hill took place the prior month. In terms of our nation, the Declaration of Independence is important because it marks the point at which our hostilities against the British became a struggle for independence, rather than a struggle for reparation. But in terms of the history of the struggle, the stage was truly set over the course of the prior decade.

There is not enough space to delve deeply into the history here. For reference, I heartily recommend A Leap In The Dark by John Ferling, and The Ideological Origins of The American Revolution by Bernard Bailyn. To summarize, one of the watershed moments of the lead-up was the Stamp Act of 1765. This was a tax on most paper products in use at the time, and it was a very visible and direct tax. It hit many colonists close to home, and was a new tax to these shores. The tax ignited protests a decade in advance of actual hostilities. For many, these protests were some of their first concrete actions in opposition to policies of their government.

But it was just a tax. Americans at the time considered it a piece of bad policy foisted upon them by the King, and when the King rescinded the tax, things simmered down. There had not yet developed an adversarial relationship between the colonists and the Crown. Over the next decade, though, a King who wanted to claim control over the colonies engaged in consistent escalation of his taxation and attempts to rein in what he considered improper actions of “his subjects”.

Throughout this decade, independence was never a foregone conclusion. Many in the colonies were not opposed to British rule, they simply wanted a hand in direction of that rule. Most people in the colonies viewed themselves as Englishmen first, citizens of their colony second, and Americans third. There was a very strong emotional connection to the Crown and to the people — many of them family — of the home country. The path to Independence was a jerking motion as the Crown bullied the populace, the populace resented the Crown, and all through that time voices towards independence helped frame the debate.

Samuel Adams was one of those key voices early on. In 1765, he was already advocating against Britain and — although difficult to speak out publicly for Independence — it is clear that he saw an American rift with Britain coming in the future. During the ensuing decade, Samuel Adams was a key instigator and key voice in framing the debate for Independence. He was instrumental during the “quiet period” of 1770-73, when the British somewhat reduced their acts of encroachment on the colonies. During this time, as anti-British sentiment waned, Samuel Adams was the key voice keeping the narrative of colonies vs. Crown in the minds of the people. It was never ONLY what the Crown did that led to independence; it was the voices of the rabble-rousers who saw the end game of subjugation to the crown who brought it to bear.

How did they bring it to bear? They changed the perception of the people. Prior to the Stamp Act, most colonists thought of themselves as Englishmen and saw the Crown as their legitimate government. Over that decade leading to July 4, 1776, that perception changed. The colonists increasingly saw the Crown as an arbitrary government willing to completely abrogate their rights in order to achieve its own ends. It saw the Crown treating the colonists in ways they believed it would never treat a true Englishman. They, as a people, ceased to give the government their consent.

This was a decade-long (and possibly extending farther back) effort. Few at the days of the first Stamp Act protests were likely envisioning a war of Independence brewing. Few are today.

In 2005, the Supreme Court found in Kelo that Americans could have their homes seized, at will, for nearly anything a local government claimed a “public use”, including handing it to developers who will build private-use structures. This hits every American in their homes. It makes every American understand that the whim of the government can take their highest-value, most cherished possession and give it to someone they think will make better use of it.

Since 2005, the United States Government has engaged in domestic wiretapping programs without judicial oversight, proving that the United States Government can listen in on your phone calls at the discretion of any civil-service bureaucrat who deems it necessary. It has created a terrorist watch-list of over 1,000,000 names, without any clear discussion of who is on that list, why, or how to have your name removed. If you’re on that list, you can expect to be hassled endlessly if you choose to engage in mundane civil activities such as air travel. During that time, it was learned that the United States Government has been engaged in “enhanced interrogation techniques” that — whether they’re technically defined torture or not — curl your hair to think about. Waterboarding is one that likely doesn’t sound as bad as it feels, but I defy anyone to support a government who engages in crucifixion.

In late 2008, in the midst of a financial crisis unlike any we’ve seen since the Depression, the United States Government decided that it could take $700B and simply hand it out to banks — more accurately, force banks to take it — and don’t have any real duty to the public regarding oversight of those funds. In the same time, the Federal Reserve and United States Treasury have either used or promised guarantees to over $14T in assets — larger than the GDP of the nation.

Since the election of Barack Obama, the United States Government passed a $787B stimulus bill not supported by a majority of Americans. The United States Government has de facto nationalized and illegally bankrupted two domestic automakers, rewriting the rules of bankruptcy in order to give out sweetheart deals to unions and the government. Most recently, the House Of Representatives has passed an enormous 1200-page Cap and Trade proposal (hidden tax) that included a 300-page amendment added only hours before the final vote. To believe that our “representatives” actually read this bill or its amendment is laughable. It is likely that over the next several months, the United States Government will pass a bill speeding us down the road to the nationalization of the healthcare industry, and to pay for it, enact a VAT to give them yet another revenue stream to extract the fruits of our labor.

Throughout all this time, the United States Government pays lip service to the Constitution, but routinely acts contrary to both its letter and its spirit at every turn. It is therefore defying even its own supreme blueprint.

If the United States Government is willing to act against the will of Americans, and if our “representatives” are willing to pass bills that they cannot and have not read — bills often giving law-making ability to unelected bureaucracies like the EPA, how can we really believe that we are a representative democracy? If the United States Government engages in barbaric acts such as crucifixion, how can we support it? If we have truly reached, as I believe, a point where our government views us not as citizens but as subjects, we must denounce the United States Government as illegitimate.

On this anniversary of the date of American Independence, it is right to celebrate. It is right to remember the valiant and principled action of the Founding Fathers to take on the world’s great superpower and assert their rights — many lost their lives in the effort. We have a nation worth celebrating.

But in remembrance of those who we are celebrating, it is important to understand their significance in a historic context (again, see the books recommended above). It is important to remember that the principles they are fighting for are again in peril. And it important to realize that in order for those principles to be recovered, we must tirelessly call the United States Government for what it is — illegitimate.

The time between the Stamp Act and the Treaty of Paris was 18 years. Between the Stamp Act and the Declaration of Independence, it was only the efforts of those who were willing to call the actions of their government deplorable that ensured that the yoke of that government would be lifted. It is now time for those of us who love our country and despise the United States Government to stand up and do the same. The American people are an industrious people, and often have little time to devote to paying attention to the actions of our government. They have a media more focused on the daily lives of TV celebrities than the outcome of legislation that will affect everyone’s daily life. They have been educated quite literally by the state to see the United States Government as a trusted friend and helpful assistant. This must change, and it is the work of those of us who believe in liberty to keep the fires stoked and educate them to the truth. This is not going to be a small job, and won’t happen quickly. But if we do not continually work towards this goal, we are resigning ourselves to a future led by a government by the power brokers, of the power brokers, and for the power brokers.

Today is a remembrance of America’s Independence Day. It is also a day to remember that committed citizens, in the cause of freedom, can break the chains of the greatest superpower seen on earth and claim their rightful liberty. It is a day to remember and celebrate those who did it before, but it’s also a day to steel yourself — there’s work to be done again.

UPDATE: Welcome readers from Let A Thousand Nations Bloom, and of course the many thousands arriving from Google News.

UPDATE 2: Welcome Carolina Sons Of Liberty readers!

Common Ground for the Left and the Right on the Bill of Rights

Trying to understand the 4th of July from an African-American perspective

“It’s Independence Day, dammit, not the ‘Fourth of July,'” properly noted a close friend on Twitter.

This was countered by what I consider another valid point. “That depends on who you’re asking,” responded African-American Jefferson County (AL) Commission candidate Iva Williams. “Plymouth Rock landed on me!”

In my opinion, there is a lot of truth to both sides of this issue.  As the exchange started with the comment made by Georgia libertarian activist Jason Pye, I should first note that I’ve never observed a whiff of racism in Pye’s words or actions. Pye, who is white, has been targeted and threatened by some racist groups in Georgia for his belief that all people should be treated equally under the law.  Additionally, I’ve never observed race-baiting on the part of Williams and my observations indicate that he truly judges people by “the content of their character.”

Pye has good reason to want to celebrate “Independence Day.”  It’s a remembrance of the day that Americans formed a new political identity by throwing off the yokes of European tyranny and oppression.  If any one day could be identified as a turning point for freedom in western civilization, this is arguably the date which should be marked on our calendars.

“It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more,” wrote John Adams to his wife Abigail.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” reads a portion of the immortal document we observe on July 4th.  However, common practice at the time didn’t provide the same rights to one sector of America: African slaves.

It is estimated that half a million people, or one fifth of the total American population, in 1776 was enslaved.

While I certainly take a great deal of pride in the fact that a lot of people risked their lives, liberty and property to secure a nation free of Europe’s chains, I’ll never forget that we placed even crueler chains upon a significant segment of our own population. As those of us of western European ancestry don’t harbor positive feelings about the way we were treated by Great Britain, Willams has no reason to harbor positive feelings about the way African-Americans were treated at the time of our nation’s birth.

In his book John Adams, David McCullough notes an advertisement in the Phildelphia Journal:

TO BE SOLD: A large quantity of pine boards that are well seasoned. Likewise, a Negro wench; she is to be disposed of for no fault, but that she is present with child, she is about 20 years old … and is fit for either town or country business.

On the flip side of the coin, McCullough writes in 1776 this commentary by General John Thomas about “Negro” soldiers: “…for fatique and in action; many of them have proved themselves brave.”

One example of such bravery was recounted by John Greenwood:

…a Negro man, wounded in the back of his neck, passed me and, his collar being open and he not having anything on except his shirt and trousers, I saw the wound quite plainly and the blood running down his back. I asked him if it hurt him much, as he did not seem to mind it.  He said no, that he was only to get a plaster put on it and meant to return. You cannot conceive what encouragement this immediately gave me. I began to feel brave and like a soldier from that moment, and fear never troubled me afterward during the whole war.

One of the most dramatic moments of my life was being stationed in Germany when the wall fell.  The only traffic jam in which I’ve enjoyed being caught was the sudden exodus of people fleeing from Soviet Bloc countries. My three closest friends were all in the same unit and of the same rank: one white, one black and one hispanic. We delighted in watching the faces of those escaping the tyranny of the east. We shared a common pride for our contributions, and there was no reason for any of us to harbor any feeling of shame.

Even Thomas Jefferson, who I admire for a variety of reasons, certainly must have shared a feeling of shame with many of his countrymen at the time of our nation’s birth. In a draft version of the Declaration of Independence, he wrote that the British crown “has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere.”

This section was dropped at the insistence of delegates from South Carolina and Georgia.

While the Constitution was being drafted, debate over the rights of African-Americans continued.  At the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, a compromise was reached and this wording (emphasis added) was finally settled upon: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

If my country was to allow those of my race to be enslaved, I’d not be likely to celebrate this sort of “independence.”

If my country was to only count me as three-fifths of a person, I’d not be celebrating this, either.

As a white person of mostly European ancestry, I understand the pride that most Americans feel on Independence Day. As I’m not black, I’ll probably never be able to truly understand the feelings of African-Americans on the topic. Were I black, I’d likely feel a sense of pride that many of my ancestors laid down their lives to promote a system of government which eventually led to the freest of societies in the history of the world.  I’d probably also wish to ensure that people never forget the absolute horrors of slavery. As many of my white friends want us to learn from the positives of the founding of our country, my black friends want to ensure that we truly understand our history so we never repeat the same mistakes.

This country has come a long way regarding racial issues since 1776. For the most part, the law requires that people of all races are to be treated equally, although in practice this isn’t always the case. At times, the legislative pendulum seems to swing too far in the other direction. To be quite clear, I’ll fight any legislation which limits the rights of members of any race.

Additionally, we’ve still got some cultural ground to cross.  If my skin tone was darker, there are still plenty of counties in the deep south where I’d not “let the sun set on my black ass.” As a white person, I don’t spend much time in those places, either. It’s not necessarily better up north, where racism is often more covert: “She’s not like us” is still whispered at many blue-blood cocktail parties.

“America experiences a new birth of freedom in her sons and daughters; she incarnates the spirit of her martyred chief,” noted Martin Luther King, Jr. in “The Negro and the Constitution.”

This Saturday, I’ll certainly understand why my Republican and Democratic friends will be flying the red, white and blue. I’ve an even deeper appreciation for my libertarian friends, who will mostly be displaying the Gadsden Flag. If I was black, I might be tempted to display three-fifths (respectfully folded and secured with pins, not cut with scissors) of an American flag.

“And I with my brother of blackest hue possessing at last my rightful heritage and holding my head erect, may stand beside the Saxon, a Negro, and yet a man!” concluded King while Jefferson wrote that “Every generation needs a new revolution.”

My Army experience in Germany taught me that people of all colors can form very close bonds when we don’t have racial barriers between us. Perhaps people of all races can spend a few minutes trying to wear shoes of a different color this July 4th. Perhaps we can start a revolution Jefferson might have welcomed so King’s Saxons and Negros are no longer divided, but are merely men.

The blood all races have shed for this country is of the same color: red. It’s time that we all learn to sit at the same table to discuss our common heritage of fighting for freedom. I can’t think of any better day to open the dialogue than on July 4th.

UPDATE: Via Dakarai I. Aarons, I’d recommend that everyone read ” What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” by Frederick Douglass.

Originally posted at Birmingham Libertarian Examiner.

Public Schools and the Public Option

Imagine a private school where students sat in a math class for weeks misbehaving and learning nothing. Imagine that school gets on TV news because the administrators suspended the young lady who blew the whistle by taking a cell phone video and giving it to her mom who confronted them. Do you think that school would have enough students to start the next school year?

Well, this happened at a public high school in the SF Bay Area:

A freshman at Clayton Valley High School in Concord, California says that’s just what she had to endure in algebra as her classmates went wild.

“People smoking marijuana in the classroom. They smoke cigarettes.” Arielle said. “There was one kid who peed in a bottle and threw it across the room.”

Clayton Valley High School is a public high school, and I have no doubt that it will open with just as many students next year as it did this year. When parents pay for an education, they absolutely will not tolerate a school run like Clayton Valley HS. When the state provides an education for free, a vast majority of parents will generally take what they can get and call it good enough. They might picket and protest for improvement, but they won’t take their kids out of the school.

What does this have to do with health care? The public option being created as part of “ObamaCare” is rather similar to public schools, in that it is designed to undercut private health insurance on the basis of price:

The Lewin Group crunched the numbers through their health care model and found that premiums for the public option plan would be 30 to 40 percent lower than private plans.

A price difference of that magnitude would lead employers to throw their employees into the ObamaCare option:

Overall, the Lewin Group estimates that if Medicare reimbursement rates are imposed, the number of Americans with private health insurance would decline by almost 120 million, leaving only 50 million Americans in the private insurance market.

That would leave approximately 15% of the population in non-government health care, just slightly more than the percentage of students that go to private school. At that point, ObamaCare will have similar monopoly power to the public schools. I expect abuses and incompetence similar to that captured by Arielle Moore at Clayton Valley High when the public option achieves its monopoly power. The scary difference is that instead of not learning algebra, the people who have to suffer that abuse and incompetence will be missing out on life-saving medical treatments.

A human life is too important to waste on government health care.

Update: John Calfee compares ObamaCare to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the WSJ. Yet another sterling example of how we don’t want our health care managed.

This is Government

According to the Iranian government, the person dying below was a terrorist. No doubt all the people walking around her in apparent unconcern for there were fellow terrorists, and the people she was terrorizing were outside camera range.

She is being called Neda. The person who uploaded the video to Youtube claims that he was nearly half a mile away from the demonstrations when a sharpshooter shot a teenage girl standing nearby with her father. Within a few seconds, she was dead, her eyes turn to the camera before being obscured by the pools blood that pour out of her mouth and nose.

A student at Kent State University gunned down by U.S. government troops.

A student at Kent State University gunned down by U.S. government troops.

Many people are arguing that this is the sort of thing that democracy is supposed to prevent. Of course, democracies also shoot people opposed to the government’s policies.

Why? because government, at its heart, is an organization that uses force to get its way. It is incapable of limiting its violence to socially beneficial causes like apprehending murderers. At some point, it points a gun at a group of people and demands they submit, and anyone who refuses gets a bullet.

This is government. Over there or over here, it is the same; the few exploit the many, and they are ready to use beatings, kidnappings and murder to get their way.

So who are the real terrorists?

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.

I Don’t Ask Congress To Applaud Iranian Protesters, But I’ll Do It Myself

Congress has voted to condemn the actions of the Iranian government, and as Reason points out, Ron Paul in typical contrarian fashion is the sole “no” vote:

I rise in reluctant opposition to H Res 560, which condemns the Iranian government for its recent actions during the unrest in that country. While I never condone violence, much less the violence that governments are only too willing to mete out to their own citizens, I am always very cautious about “condemning” the actions of governments overseas. As an elected member of the United States House of Representatives, I have always questioned our constitutional authority to sit in judgment of the actions of foreign governments of which we are not representatives. I have always hesitated when my colleagues rush to pronounce final judgment on events thousands of miles away about which we know very little. And we know very little beyond limited press reports about what is happening in Iran.

I applaud Ron Paul for taking his usual principled stand. Our Congress does not need to be spending their time issuing Resolutions toothless moralistic statements about America, much less other countries. Even if I were to retreat from my cautious anarchist tendencies and accept that Congress actually deserves real responsibilities, that responsibility is to legislate, not preach.

But a part of those anarchist tendencies is Heinlein’s rational anarchy. All actions are ultimately morally within the hands of individuals. Immaterial of laws or society, it is the individual who is morally responsible for acting rightly or wrongly.

So I don’t ask Congress to speak on Iran. Taking a chance to personalize H Res 560, let me do it myself:

Resolved, That Brad Warbiany —

  1. expresses his support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;
  2. condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones; and
  3. affirms the universality of individual rights and considers any government which infringes upon those individual rights to be illegitimate.

Iran is at a very important point. In a mere matter of hours, this may come to a head. The mullahs have signaled that they will resort to violence with a call that any who continue protesting “will be held responsible for the consequences and chaos.” Many people in Iran have said that they’re going to protest anyway.

As I write this in California, it is 10:15 AM in Iran. Much will happen in the next few hours. To those Iranians who are not sure what will happen next, I can only wish you safety and success. I’m not sure you’ll have the former, but if you don’t I at least hope you achieve the latter.

It’s Time to Impeach Obama

It’s time to impeach Obama; indict him, and his entire administration, for fraud, coercion, extortion, influence peddling, and grand theft under the color of law, amongst hundreds of other charges.

It is not simply the auto issue; but that is currently the most visible.

This is no hyperbole. I am not simply spouting off. I believe, and will from this point forward, work to see, Barack Obama impeached, charged, indicted, tried, and imprisoned, for the crimes he and his cronies have committed against this nation, and its people.

Also, let me make this clear: This is NOT about politics, or at least not about political ideology. I believe that everyone, left, right, libertarian, or indifferent to ideology; should see what Obama and his administration are doing, and understand the damage it is doing, and will do, to this country.

We cannot allow our nation to become a nation of men. We MUST remain a nation of laws.

At this point, Obama, and his administration, aren’t even bothering to PRETEND to obey the law, or the constitution. They have embarked on a campaign of theft and fraud never seen before in the history of man kind; knowing that they had the full cover of the media protecting them, a friendly congress, and a co-operative judiciary.

They are in clear violation of the constitution, and hundreds if not thousands, of state and federal laws; blatantly and knowingly flouting them in fact, because, in Obamas words, “We won”.

Well, I’m sorry sir, for now at least, we are still a nation of laws; and you must be brought to account.

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

Liberty Rock Friday: Freewill by Rush

waves

Rush
“Freewill”
Permanent Waves (1980)

Words by Neil Peart, music by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson

There are those who think that life
Has nothing left to chance
With a host of holy horrors
To direct our aimless dance

A planet of playthings
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
The stars aren’t aligned —
Or the gods are malign
Blame is better to give than receive

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path thats clear
I will choose free will

There are those who think that theyve been dealt a losing hand
The cards were stacked against them —
They weren’t born in lotus-land

All preordained
A prisoner in chains
A victim of venomous fate
Kicked in the face
You can’t pray for a place
In heavens unearthly estate

Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt
That’s far too fleet…

Menu Planning With CSPI

It must be getting close to lunchtime… I want to go eat ALL OF THIS!

South Beach Diet Friendly!

This is a Cheeseburger in Paradise!

Take Applebee’s Quesadilla Burger.

Heaven knows, it’s tough to put a new spin on burgers. And quesadillas—two largetortillas stuffed with cheese—have made it big on appetizer menus.

Mix them together and you’ve got the Quesadilla Burger—a beef patty plus cheddar cheese, pepper-Jack cheese, bacon, Mexi-ranch sauce, pico de gallo, and shredded lettuce tucked into two white-flour tortillas.

With fries (440 calories), your platter comes to 1,820 calories and 46 grams of saturated fat. (“Add chili & cheese to your fries for $1.49,” says the menu. Let’s not even go there.)

Now, as you might expect, I’ve got some ideological differences with the folks at CSPI. They’d probably prefer to outlaw food like this, while folks like me — genetically blessed with low cholesterol — understand that eating this type of meal once in a blue moon is not that bad. I certainly don’t blame them for highlighting just how unhealthy this meal truly is, disagreeing with them, though, on their proposed menu labeling laws. But when it goes to the inevitable next step (the “fat tax”), we’re going to have major issues.

But I have to give CSPI some credit. They sure know how to make a guy hungry!

Hat Tip: Ezra Klein

Liberty Rock Friday: Hook in Mouth by Megadeth

md

Megadeth
Hook in Mouth
So Far, So Good, So What! (1988)

Music by D. Mustaine/D. Ellefson, Lyrics by D. Mustaine)

A cockroach in the concrete, courthouse tan and beady eyes.
A slouch with fallen arches, purging truths into great lies.
A little man with a big eraser, changing history
Procedures that hes programmed to, all he hears and sees.

Altering the facts and figures, events and every issue.
Make a person disappear, and no one will ever miss you.

Rewrites every story, every poem that ever was.
Eliminates incompetence, and those who break the laws.
Follow the instructions of the new ways evil book of rules.
Replacing rights with wrongs, the files and records in the schools.

You say youve got the answers, well who asked you anyway?
Ever think maybe it was meant to be this way?
Dont try to fool us, we know the worst is yet to come.
I believe my kingdom will come.

Chorus
F is for fighting, R is for red,
Ancestors blood in battles theyve shed.
E, we elect them, E, we eject them,
In the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
D, for your dying, O, your overture,
M, they will cover your grave with manure.
This spells out freedom, it means nothing to me,
As long as theres a P.M.R.C.

F is for fighting, R is for red,
Ancestors blood in battles theyve shed.
E, we elect them, E, we eject them,
In the land of the free and the home of the brave.
D, for your dying, O, your overture,
M is for money and you know what that cures.
This spells out freedom, it means nothing to me,
As long as theres a P.M.R.C.

Put your hand right up my shirt,
Pull the strings that make me work,
Jaws will part, words fall out,
Like a fish with hook in mouth.

Rewrites every story, every poem that ever was.
Eliminates incompetence, and those who break the laws.
Follow the instructions of the new ways evil book of rules.
Replacing rights with wrongs, the files and records in the schools.

Im not a fish
Im a man

Hook
In
Mouth

Why Collectivism “works”, but doesn’t work.

Generally speaking, when talking with a relatively reasonable and intelligent leftists about politics, economics (which are the same thing to them), econometrics, and social philosophy (again, they can’t be separated in leftist theology); the “question” will arise “If socialism is so bad, why does it work in families, and villages? It works there, so it should work everywhere.”

That isn’t so much a question, as argumentum inquisitum (aka “begs the question”), but let’s take up the challenge anyway; as the answer is simple, fundamental, and absolutely vital to understanding microeconomics, and how it interacts with societal level macroeconomics.

Collectivism (of any variety) does not work on scales larger than a village, because people will ALWAYS respond to their perceived interests and incentives.

ALWAYS

Let me repeat that one more time:

People will always, over time and absent interference, respond to their perceived interest and incentive.

People may (in fact, very frequently do) mispercieve their interest, or may choose a poor course of action in their properly (or improperly) perceived interests, but they will ALWAYS respond to them.

In a family, the incentive and interest are VERY strong, genetically, socially, societally, emotionally, and spiritually; to ensure the prosperity and well being of the family unit equal to or ahead of ones self.

We can see what happens to families where this is not so among the majority of members; or is not so among the “strongest” members (the “leaders” of the family). These families rapidly degenerate into an unhealthy mess of force, fraud, manipulation, pain, and dysfunction.

This is also what happens in society as a whole when collectivist ideology is enforced on it.

One should note, there is no such thing as a naturally occurring voluntary collectivist order above the small tribal group. At larger scales, collectivism must always be enforced on the whole, because it is against the interest of many individuals; until such time as a dependent class is formed which will create an artificial interest, causing that class to act in that interest to enforce collectivism on the independent individuals.

As I said, people will ALWAYS act in their perceived interest. Even in collectivism; which is supposedly communitarian in nature.

In society as a whole, and specifically in societies larger than familial, clan, village, or small tribal level; self interest is a considerably stronger incentive and interest than the interest of society.

Communitarian ideals can generally work scaled up to village size, or even small tribes; but the bigger the unit gets, in general, the weaker the cohesion; unless there is another binding force (such as tribalism, or at least ethnic solidarity).

Also, the free rider problem, which may be one or two individuals within a family, becomes a serious drag on resources even at the village size. It becomes insupportable above the scale of a large tribe or small state.

These village size units work best when the village is itself a competing interest against other villages, or groups of villages united by a common characteristic which creates a cohesive identity.

We call this tribalism; and it allows for progress to a certain point, but is also a natural restraint on it; in that tribalism encourages the violent breakdown of civil culture in conflict with other tribes.

In fact, almost all of the greatest evils perpetrated within the confines of society (as opposed to evils outside of a society such as serial killers, etc…) are the result of violent tribal conflict; including the wars in the middle east and Africa (all of them).

All forms of collectivism fail to recognize or account for the inherent competitive, and striving nature of man; and generally fail to account for his inherent xenophobia as well (yes, certain individuals or small groups may suppress those characteristics, but man as a whole is man; unchanging and vicious from prehistory to this minute. We just have better tools to kill each other with, faster, and on a larger scale now).

Thus, aside from its structural deficiencies, inefficiency, and moral evil; socialism is antithetical to the natural social nature and structure of man (contrary to the assertions of socialists that it is in fact derived from the nature of man, or is scientifically and historically inevitable. Both logic and history show this construction to be elegant, but falacious).

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

Park Service Honors Freedom’s Heroes By Stomping On Property Rights

The passengers of United Flight 93 were heroes. Scared, unsure of what the future held, and in the face of everything that passengers previously understood about hijackings, they knew that it was their duty to try to overcome the odds and take down the hijackers on that flight. They didn’t turn to a sky marshal, or rely on nonexistent “authorities”, they courageously got up and fought. While they were ultimately unsuccessful at bringing Flight 93 to a safe conclusion, and paid a heavy price for their efforts, they’ve saved countless lives through their actions. They saved those who were the intended target of Flight 93 that day. But more importantly, more than anything the TSA and airport checkpoints could have done, the simple knowledge that passengers won’t sit idly by and acquiesce to hijacker’s demands are IMHO the reason that we haven’t seen an attempted hijacking since 9/11.

I would love to see the courage and bravery of those passengers memorialized. But not like this. Not at the cost of freedom:

The government will begin taking land from seven property owners so that the Flight 93 memorial can be built in time for the 10th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks, the National Park Service said.

In a statement obtained by The Associated Press, the park service said it had teamed up with a group representing the victims’ families to work with landowners since before 2005 to acquire the land.

“But with few exceptions, these negotiations have been unsuccessful,” said the statement.

Landowners dispute that negotiations have taken place and say they are disappointed at the turn of events.

“We always prefer to get that land from a willing seller. And sometimes you can just not come to an agreement on certain things,” park service spokesman Phil Sheridan said.

And when government cannot come to an agreement, they resort to their final tool: the barrel of a gun. What they want, they’ll simply take, if it comes down to it. Sure, they offer “just compensation”, but if they’re the ones deciding what is “just” without you able to refuse, they can give you whatever pittance they choose. All this to meet an arbitrary 10-year deadline. They claim it’s necessary to move this quickly because they can’t stand the idea of not completing this in time for 9/11/2011. Anyone want to take odds on them actually completing in time, even if they do get the land quickly?

The passengers of Flight 93 stood up to defend themselves and the intended victims of the intended crash site. They also stood up to defend the freedom we cherish in America from those who would attack it. They deserve to be honored, but we need not sacrifice the freedom that they were trying to protect in doing so.

Hat Tip: Positive Liberty (via email from reader Tom R)

Bundling The Banks Into A TARP

Geithner's Treasury Grabs A Bank
Back in October, the banks appeared to be in very deep trouble. Such deep trouble that they were forced to enter a deal with the Devil decided to run to the government for assistance. But they were shocked — SHOCKED! — when the government starting attaching a whole bunch of regulations and conditions to the deal after the fact.

So they want to return the money. And the government won’t take it back without a fight:

The bottom line for the banks is that if they want out of TARP, they have to be able to withdraw from all the other sources of emergency public support that the government has given them. If they want the support, then they have to agree to the conditions and regulations that come with TARP. No subsidies without regulations. To put it into more common terms, banks can decide to break up with the government or they can decide to stay together. But they don’t get to be friends with benefits.

Imagine the outcry from utility regulators if you signed up for the sports package with your cable company because you wanted, say, SpeedTV. After a while, you grow tired of the programming and all the extra cost because you don’t think you need to pay for TVG and all the other channels, so you call the company and try to cancel the sports package. And they tell you that if you want to quit the sports package, you’ll have to cancel cable, internet, and phone service altogether — you can’t have just one!

I think Stuart Varney lays it out quite well (c/o Michael Wade @ QandO):

I must be naive. I really thought the administration would welcome the return of bank bailout money. Some $340 million in TARP cash flowed back this week from four small banks in Louisiana, New York, Indiana and California. This isn’t much when we routinely talk in trillions, but clearly that money has not been wasted or otherwise sunk down Wall Street’s black hole. So why no cheering as the cash comes back?

My answer: The government wants to control the banks, just as it now controls GM and Chrysler, and will surely control the health industry in the not-too-distant future. Keeping them TARP-stuffed is the key to control. And for this intensely political president, mere influence is not enough. The White House wants to tell ‘em what to do. Control. Direct. Command.

I’ll have a more detailed post coming up when I get around to it, but I think I, too, was naive. I expected more from Obama. I honestly believed that he was actually trying to become President because he wanted to improve outcomes, not just drive the train. I was sure, of course, that Obama was going to be pointing us the wrong direction, but I thought he was at least going to try to do so carefully, efficiently, and taking input from all sides before doing so. In short, I knew I wasn’t going to like him, but I thought he was going to be reasonable.

Not so much. He wants to control the financial sector. He doesn’t just want to fix it, he wants to remake it according to his own ideology. He doesn’t want them to succeed without government; he wants them to be dependent on government. I thought Bush was an exceptionally authoritarian President, but it seems that he was just laying the groundwork for Barack Obama.

The Feds have the banks in the grasp of their talons and they’re squeezing. And by god they won’t let up until submission is complete.

Overeducated Redneck

One of the things that has always amazed (and amused, and irritated) me, is the willingness of those on the left to dismiss me, and those of my political bent, as racists, hicks, ignorant, rednecks (as if those things were synonymous) etc…

Any time I’ve written about the evils of collectivism, how firearms are as important to freedom as speech, how political correctness is as damaging to freedom as any other form of censorship, how liberal and leftists ideas just don’t work (no matter how well intentioned they are), how islamofascism… or any other kind of fascism for that matter… are anathema to liberty and the well being of a people… Like clockwork there they are calling me an ignorant, racist, redneck (and it’s always those three together for some reason).

Well first thing, I’m generally certain that I’m considerably more intelligent, educated, and informed than those calling me ignorant (and for that matter, they are almost certainly racists whether they realize it or not; and I am definitely not; but that’s another post entirely); but that doesn’t address the point I want to make here.

To these people, redneck is an insult. So is “cowboy” for that matter, or really anything to do with rural America or “country”.

This is of course another form of class warfare, and identity politics. By calling me a redneck, they believe they are dismissing me, my ideas, my opinions, and the facts I present; as not credible, irrelevant, or below them.

Well… to me, call me a redneck, and that’s a compliment. They didn’t intend it that way, but it is.

To their conception, all intelligent, educated, perceptive people must surely agree with them; and anyone who doesn’t follow their false faith of transnational progressivism must therefore be either stupid, evil, or ignorant (or some combination of the three); i.e. a “Redneck” as they see it.

This is especially amusing to me, as given my minarchist libertarian views, some on the far right would consider me just as evil for not following THEIR faith of coerced morality through the force of government.

Of course on its face calling me a redneck would seem ridiculous. By the leftists own expectations, I should be “one of them”.

I was born and raised in and around Boston Massachusetts (with a side trip into Northern New Hampshire. I live in Arizona now, by choice and circumstance). I lived there until I was 16; attending a public school in theory, but most of my education was from a special “gifted” students program called “ACE”, which stood for Accelerated Cognitive Education.

In the ACE program, I started taking 8th grade level classes in 3rd grade, with private tutors and at local private schools. By the time I was a sophomore in high school I had completed most of the first two years worth of general education college courses at local colleges.

I graduated high school at 16; and from there I went on to two degrees at a small private engineering college.

My family are typical Boston Irish. A mix of blue collar, government employees, teachers, cops, firemen, tradesmen, and of course politicians. Most of them are either union democrats, or straight liberals (though surprisingly the politicians in the family were mostly Republicans).

So, as I said, by all their expectations, I should be one of them (and the fact that I’m not seems to drive some of them to even greater lengths of apoplectic rage).

The difference is all in the decisions I made for myself.

I decided to leave home at 16, because my home environment was bad; but I did it going to college. I made something of myself, though I hasten to say a college education is neither necessary, nor sufficient, to do so. My younger brother, in the same environment and with similar native intelligence, decided to suck off the government teat, and became a small time drug dealer.

I decided to join the Air Force; which has changed me more than any other experience in my life but fatherhood. I credit my grandfather, the Air Force, and my kids, for making me who I am.

I decided to travel around the world, and expand my horizons along with my knowledge. I’ve had the great good fortune to visit all 50 American states, and 40 someodd countries (I say someodd, because some of them aren’t countries anymore, and some are two or more countries now).

I decided to take the opportunities that came my way, and when they weren’t coming, to make them; taking risks, sometimes failing, sometimes getting ahead, but always learning.

I decided to learn every damn thing I could to get by, and get ahead. I learned computers, AND carpentry; mechanical engineering, AND auto mechanics.

I decided to take responsibility for myself, and to do for myself and my family, in every way that I could.

And guess what?

Those decisions have made me into a redneck, and I’m proud of it.

You know what being a redneck means to me?

It means being independent.

It means knowing how to fix things when they break.

It means not being helpless outside the modern urban island.

It means knowing the difference between right and wrong; and knowing how to apply my best judgment.

It means knowing that there are things more important than my own comfort and my own skin; and that those things are worth fighting, and dying for.

I’ve chosen to surround myself with others like me; and let me tell you, there are a heck of a lot of us out there.

We’re black, white, asian, hispanic; Bostonian, New Yorker, Texan, Alabaman, even Californian. We’re college educated, and self educated. We’re rural and urban. It’s never really been about where you’re from, or who you were born to; it’s always been about the decisions you make.

The decision to reject the collective, for the individual. The decision to be in charge of your own life. The decision to live the way you believe is right.

So hell yeah, I’m a redneck, and proud of it.

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

And the Republican Party still can’t figure out why they keep losing elections…

hankFor some time, the national libertarian community has been paying attention to the Free the Hops movement in Alabama.  A brief overview provides:

Of the Top 100 beers of the World at BeerAdvocate.com, a renowned beer review site, 98 cannot be sold in this state. Why is our choice so limited?

Currently, Alabama is one of only three states in the country that limits alcohol by volume (ABV) for beer to only 6%, and the only state that limits beer containers to a size of no more than 1 pint (16 ounces).

Free The Hops drafted the Gourmet Beer Bill to modify existing laws to allow more specialty and gourmet beers in Alabama. Specifically, the Gourmet Beer Bill would raise the limit on ABV in beer to just below that of wine. Free The Hops presented the Gourmet Beer Bill to the Alabama Legislature in 2006 and 2007 and has presented it again for 2008.

Right now, the bill is being held up by one authoritarian imbecile in the State Senate.  Here’s the scoop:

Republican State Senator Hank Erwin has been an outspoken opponent of this bill.  Instead of letting it go to a vote, he places his moral code above the legislative process. Erwin has been filibustering the bill and plans to continue until this legislative season ends.

Erwin’s strange views on morality have already placed him in the national spotlight.

“New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast have always been known for gambling, sin and wickedness,” wrote Erwin about why Hurricane Katrina hit. “It is the kind of behavior that ultimately brings the judgment of God.”

According to stories I’m hearing today, Senator Morality doesn’t mind breaking his word when it gives him political leverage.  Two reliable sources close to the Free the Hops effort have relayed pretty much the same story to me.  According to them, a Free the Hops lobbyist approached Erwin about not filibustering the bill.  Erwin had a gun rights bill he was pushing and a deal was cut: Erwin wouldn’t filibuster the gourmet beer bill if the lobbyist would support the gun bill.

As I hear it, the lobbyist did push hard for the gun bill, but it failed anyway.  Now Erwin isn’t holding up to his end of the bargain.

Not that I’m suggesting that anyone give Senator Erwin a call at his home number of (205) 620-0116 or pop him an e-mail at senatorerwin@aol.com, but I just did.  While I’m still riled up over the issue, I do feel a bit calmer after completing the call.

Erwin is such a joke that I reserved a special place for him in my recent lineup of dumbass Alabama politicians.   However, the joke could be on Alabama, as Erwin has recently announced his intention to run for Lt. Governor in 2010.  I don’t think he’ll win, as I know too many Republicans who’d cross party lines to vote against him.  This video clearly indicates how loved he is even in his home district.

Photo courtesy of The Birmingham Free Press

No Secession, No Legitimacy!

Many Republicans, having discovered that Bush’s policies are tyrannical, are making noises about wanting out of the fascist state that they were cheering on a few months ago. While we may wonder why it took the trivial matter of having people who have the letter D appended to their names on news reports executing Bush’s policies to open their eyes, we must welcome the fact that they are dimly becoming aware of how thoroughly their leaders had betrayed their country and are looking for ways to undo the damage these leaders wrought.

Some Republicans have even endorsed secession! This is keeping with American tradition that started the first time the idealogical ancestors of the Republican party – the Federalists – lost an election for the Presidency. In that case the merchants of New England threatened secession since Tomas Jefferson’s policies of trade embargoes with foreign markets were crippling them. Since then threats of seccession have been a regular part of the political landscape.

Often the threats of secession are not taken seriously… usually the benefits of leaving the union are not sufficiently great to attract many supporters, and thus the powers-that-be can ignore the movements completely.

Today, though, the Democrats and political leadership are reacting in horror at the reemergence of threat American phenomenon – their dreams of social engineering will go up in smoke if the masses have the option to escape! And many people who should know better are agreeing with them.

People make three arguments against secession:
1)That it is illegal
2)That it is immoral
3)That it is unwise

Let us examine these arguments. » Read more

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.

Cato Report: Portugal’s Seven Year Experiment with Drug Decriminalization “a Resounding Success”

greenwald_whitepaper

In July of 2001, Portugal tried something which would horrify policy makers the world over: the decriminalization of all drugs. As a result, Portugal turned into a country overrun with drugs, stoners, drug tourists, and criminals…right?

Not according to a report by Cato’s Glenn Greenwald entitled Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies. Greenwald concludes:

“The data show that, judged by virtually every metric, the Portuguese decriminalization framework has been a resounding success. Within this success lie self-evident lessons that should guide drug policy debates around the world.”

While this result may shock most people, this comes as no surprise to Libertarians. The question is, will the rest of the world learn from Portugal’s experiment with drug decriminalization?

More Information on this report:

Click here to view the Cato policy forum event related to this report.

Even David Duke Has The Right To Free Speech

Friday in the Czech Republic, Czech police detained a foreigner on suspicion of Thoughtcrime. The foreigner in question is former KKK leader David Duke who was arrested and later deported for the Thoughtcrime offense of denying the Holocaust.

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke was detained by police in the Czech Republic on Friday on suspicion of denying the Holocaust.

Police spokesman Jan Mikulovsky said the action was taken because Duke does that in his book “My Awakening,” which is punishable by up to three years in Czech prisons.

Duke traveled to the republic to promote the book’s Czech translation of the book at the invitation of neo-Nazis.

The thought of arresting someone, even a person whose views on the Holocaust and on Jews and other non-whites is hideous like David Duke, for having a belief is repugnant. Especially in a supposedly free country and NATO member like the Czech Republic. Arresting people and deporting them for thoughtcrimes is the hallmark of totalitarian regimes. Is not forgetting the pain and suffering the Nazi tyranny imposed on Czechs the reason behind this law? Instead, this law has been enacted and enforced in the spirit of that same Nazi and later Communist tyrannies that enslaved Czechoslovakia. The Holocaust denial laws are a violation of basic freedom of speech and freedom of thought and should be repealed. The hideousness of the Holocaust can stand up under any scrutiny the Holocaust deniers bring forth.

Also, the lack of response by the United States Department of State toward this violation of Duke’s human rights is appalling. If this was an American promoting democracy in say China and they were expelled for the Thoughtcrime of promoting democracy by the Chinese government, the State Department would be raising hell. Why the silence in this case?

Finally, one thing I noticed in the comments to the original article is the calls by the fascist left in America for similar crimes in this country. I thought leftists were for free speech?

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

The Constitution really DOES mean what is says

This morning, the 9th circuit court of appeals confirmed that the 2nd amendment is indeed incorporated against the states under the selective incorporation doctrine, in the case Nordyke Vs. King.

This means that the 2nd amendment has a lawful status equivalent to that of the first, fourth, fifth, and other amendments which explicitly protect our fundamental rights.

Of course, that is only lawfully binding within the 9th circuit; but it is expected that other circuits will take judicial notice of the 9ths ruling.

If you aren’t familiar with the Nordyke Vs. King; this is the case where a gunshow operator was denied access to use country fairgrounds for their gunshows, because a county ordnance prevented the possession of firearms on county property by anyone other than law enforcement.

The facts of the case as presented to the court are as follows (emphasis in bold and red are mine):

Russell and Sallie Nordyke operate a business that promotes gun shows throughout California. A typical gun show involves the display and sale of thousands of firearms, generally ranging from pistols to rifles. Since 1991, they have publicized numerous shows across the state, including at the public fairgrounds in Alameda County.

Before the County passed the law at issue in this appeal, the Alameda gun shows
routinely drew about 4,000 people. The parties agree that nothing violent or illegal happened at those events.

In the summer of 1999, the County Board of Supervisors, a legislative body, passed Ordinance No. 0-2000-22 (“the Ordinance”), codified at Alameda County General Ordinance Code (“Alameda Code”) section 9.12.120.

The Ordinance makes it a misdemeanor to bring onto or to possess a firearm
or ammunition on County property. Alameda Code § 9.12.120(b).

It does not mention gun shows.

According to the County, the Board passed the Ordinance in response to a shooting that occurred the previous summer at the fairgrounds during the annual County Fair.

The Ordinance begins with findings that “gunshot fatalities are of epidemic
proportions in Alameda County.”

At a press conference, the author of the Ordinance, Supervisor Mary King, cited a “rash of gun-related violence” in the same year as the fairground shooting. She was referring to a series of school shootings that attracted national attention in the late
1990s, the most notorious of which occurred at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

But the Nordykes insist that something more sinister was afoot. They point to some of King’s other statements as evidence that she actually intended to drive the gun shows out of Alameda County.

Shortly before proposing the Ordinance, King sent a memorandum to the County Counsel asking him to research “the most appropriate way” she might “prohibit the gun shows” on County property.

King declared she had “been trying to get rid of gun shows on Country property” for “about three years,” but she had “gotten the run around from spineless people hiding behind the constitution, and been attacked by aggressive gun toting mobs on right wing talk radio.”

At her press conference, King also said that the County should not “provide a place for people to display guns for worship as deities for the collectors who treat them as
icons of patriotism.”

Without expressing any opinion about King’s remarks, the Board of Supervisors adopted the Ordinance. County officials then exchanged several letters with the
Nordykes.

The General Manager of the fairgrounds asked the Nordykes to submit a written plan to explain how their next gun show would comply with the Ordinance.

As the County Counsel had told the General Manager, the Ordinance did not
expressly prohibit gun shows or the sale of firearms.

An aside from the the blog author: This is in fact a false statement. California statute in conjunction with federal law (i.e. the sum total of requirements imposed by both sets of statutes combined; not each set individually), requires that firearms transfers occur face to face, through an FFL; that the FFL conduct a background check and in person identity verification of the person they are delivering the weapon to at the time of sale, AND at the time of delivery if those times are separate; and that the sale be conducted at the FFLs place of business, an organized gun show, or a licensed auction.

Effectively, the only way they could conduct a gun show, would be to have pictures of guns available, at which time prospective gun purchasers could arrange to meet the FFL later at their place of business to purchase a firearm. It would not even be lawful to explicitly arrange for a sale at the show and then complete the transaction later.

The county counsel knew, or should have known, that this was the case.

The Nordykes insisted then and maintain now that they cannot hold a gun show without guns; perhaps because they thought it futile, they never submitted a plan.

During the same period, representatives of the Scottish Caledonian Games (“the Scottish Games”) inquired about the effect of the new law on the activities they traditionally held on the fairgrounds. Those activities include reenactments, using period firearms loaded with blank ammunition, of historic battles.

After the inquiries, the County amended the Ordinance to add several exceptions. Importantly, the Ordinance no longer applies to [t]he possession of a firearm by an authorized participant in a motion picture, television, video, dance, or theatrical production or event, when the participant lawfully uses the firearm as part of that production or event, provided that when such firearm is not in the actual possession of the authorized participant, it is secured to prevent unauthorized use.

This exception allows members of the Scottish Games to reenact historic battles if they secure their weapons, but it is unclear whether the County
created the exception just for them.

By the time the County had written this exception into the Ordinance, the Nordykes and several patrons of and exhibitors at the gun shows (collectively, “the Nordykes”) had already sued the County and its Supervisors under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for various constitutional violations. The amendment did not mollify them, and their lawsuit has wended through various procedural twists and turns for nearly a decade.

I just want to highlight again one particular passage:

King declared she had “been trying to get rid of gun shows on Country property” for “about three years,” but she had “gotten the run around from spineless people hiding behind the constitution, and been attacked by aggressive gun toting mobs on right wing talk radio.”

At her press conference, King also said that the County should not “provide a place for people to display guns for worship as deities for the collectors who treat them as icons of patriotism.”

Disgusting.

Unfortunately the result here is mixed. The circuit has ruled that the 2nd is incorporated against the states; but that it did not overturn the statute in question… I’m not really sure I agree with or follow their reasoning on this one.

The ruling provides that the second amendment is explicitly incorporated against the states, in plain language:

We therefore conclude that the right to keep and bear arms is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

Colonial revolutionaries, the Founders, and a host of commentators and lawmakers living during the first one hundred years of the Republic all insisted on the fundamental nature of the right.

It has long been regarded as the “true palladium of liberty.” Colonists relied on it to assert and to win their independence, and the victorious Union sought to prevent a
recalcitrant South from abridging it less than a century later.

The crucial role this deeply rooted right has played in our birth and history compels us to recognize that it is indeed fundamental, that it is necessary to the Anglo-American conception of ordered liberty that we have inherited.

We are therefore persuaded that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment and applies it against the states and local governments.

There could not be a better, and more unambiguous, declaration of right than this.

What is puzzling to me is how they decided that the county ordnance did not then violate the second amendment.

Yes, they make clear that laws which make exercising fundamental rights more difficult do not automatically infringe upon them (from a legal standpoint); but it seems to me this is a clear cut case of a local government, promulgating a complete ban on the possession of firearms on land controlled by that local government.

Such a ban should be clearly unconstitutional under this analysis.

It would be like saying free speech did not apply on county property, which IS clearly prohibited. Yes, there can be reasonable restrictions, but total prohibition should be right out.

Given the relative weakness of argument supporting the ordnance, and complete lack of precedential support, I can only conclude they were desperately hunting for a reason not to invalidate ALL gun control legislation in one stroke.

Now, the real question, is whether either party is going to continue appealing, and file a petition for certiorari before the supreme court.

Both parties have grounds, and standing to file; and both parties have both incentive and disincentive to do so.

If they do, and the court decides to take it, it would be the second most significant second amendment case ever, after Heller (Heller clearly supersedes Miller, and is therefore more significant)

By the by, if you read the whole ruling (and I recommend you do) there is some extensive discussion of Cruikshank, Presser, and Slaughterhouse. I believe that Heller provided an explicit foundation for all three to be overturned (at least partially).

Actually I believe that proper jurisprudence suggests they should be overturned as having had no facial validity in their initial rulings, being clearly against the principals engendered in the constitution; but Heller gives a precedential foundation for this).

Although I’m generally not a big fan of Hugo Black; I think he had the right concept on the 14th amendment. In fact, I believe it should have been clear without the fourteenth amendment, and merely through the supremacy clause that ALL elements of the constitution as directly related to the people and the protection of our rights (as opposed to the structural components of the constitution) applied to the states.

Also contained therein, is an analysis of the right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental individual right, and commonlaw right from before the founding of this nation through the passage of the 14th amendment and beyond; including a discussion of the racist nature of gun control.

The footnotes and citations too contain a wealth of information, this lovely nugget being my favorite:

we do not measure the protection the Constitution affords a right by the values of our own times. If contemporary desuetude sufficed to read rights out of the Constitution, then there would be little benefit to a written statement of them. Some may disagree with the decision of the Founders to enshrine a given right in the Constitution. If so, then the people can amend the document. But such amendments are not for the courts to ordain.

In all, the incorporation portion of the ruling and opinion are so well researched, and reasoned, in such depth; that I cannot see how a credible argument could successfully be made against it, given an honest arbiter.

Conversely, the section (only a few paragraphs of a 40 page ruling) arguing that the ordinance did not violate the second amendment was so poorly argued that I can’t see how a successful argument COULD NOT be made against it, given an honest arbiter.

So I say, Alameda County, PLEASE appeal this to the supreme court on incorporation grounds; and to the Nordykes, please appeal the decision to uphold the law.

Thanks ever so much.

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

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