The Freeman's Burden:

To defend the principles of human liberty; to educate; to be vigilant against the ever expanding power of the state.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Au revoir pour maintenant

I will soon find myself in the belly of the beast. In the interest of cultural understanding (and the looks on their faces if Bush wins) I will be traveling to Western France on election day to visit with friends and get their reactions to the US presidential elections. I will try to post any insight I gain as soon as possible, but it will be unlikely that I will be posting every day while traveling abroad. So check back every few days.
As of Sunday night, IEM gives President Bush a three cent lead over John Kerry. I wouldn't put a penny on this election!

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Why have a terror alert system?

In the last couple of days, we have been treated to the maniacal rantings of Azzam the American and Osama bin Laden on separately released videotapes. The first contained the typical, "streets of America running red with the blood of the infidels," crap that we have heard repeatedly before. That it was in English and clearly directed as an unfiltered message to the American people is different. Only a couple of days later we get a strangely reconciliatory bin Laden speaking calmly and reasonably in common Arabic, not the high chant of his previous tapes. This too is a direct, unfiltered message from him to the American people. Either of these tapes should cause concern, both of them right before the election should be sending shockwaves through the corridors of the military, homeland security and every level of law enforcement. Instead we find out today that the Department of Homeland Security will not elevate the Terror Threat Level from Goldenrod to Salmon or whatever. The point is that 6 months ago, either of these tapes would have led the DHS to raise the threat level. The fact that they wouldn't is evidence that the only standard by which the system is governed is political expediency. The Bush DHS is acutely aware that if they raised the threat level it could be seen as an effort to scare people before the election and decried as "dirty tricks" and an October surprise. However, the fact that the system is not administered in a nonpartisan way means it is sensitive to political manipulations and hence, completely without credibility. What then, I ask you, is the point of having a terror alert system if is not capable of adhering to a consistent standard and triggering specific actions and recommendations for citizens. The whole silly exercise should be scrapped.

The virtues & vices of our republic

Ask yourself, "How is it possible, in a nearly perfectly divided nation, for one party to maintain control of the entire government?" It now appears likely that the Republicans will not only maintain control of the government, but will increase their power through pick-ups in the House and the Senate. The GOP also controls a majority of Governor's mansions. Part of this is simply the way the system is designed. That the GOP control the entire government and still face significant opposition is a testament to the virtues of republic. However, the ability of the Republicans to maintain control of the entire government in a closely divided electorate also requires systemic corruption as subtle as the built-in advantages of incumbancy to the overt redistricting plans designed to blunt the voices of the people in order to satisfy the needs of the parties to secure power bases. It is not a partisan criticism because both parties enjoy these advantages, but the danger this corruption presents to our system is significant. If the government does not reflect the will of the people, then it ceases to be democratic and loses its claim to legitimacy under the Constitution. It is the responsibility of the citizenry to see that the government maintains transparency and accountability to the people. I fear our government is in increasing danger of crossing that line as it continues to inch closer and closer to the point that it no longer represents us but sees itself as a sovereign agent. This would be the death knell for liberty in our times.
Here is a great list of all of the established political parties in the United States including platform overviews and links. An entertaining and enlightening read!

Friday, October 29, 2004

End Game

Alright, Bush is probably going to win. I can't imagine that the Democrats will be able to recover from the Bin Laden tape in just 3 days. Already the IEM is showing Kerry's stock dropping and Bush on the rise. I believe the polls will follow suit. On the other hand, it's worth noting that Bin Laden gives examples of U.S. intervention in the Middle East as the reason for September 11. I do not wish to convey any sympathy for Muslim extremists, but the statement is, none the less, instructive. If this nation would follow the founder's advice and leave our interactions with other nations to trade, both commercial and cultural, and not to the advancement of any ideology or private interest, we could avoid these sorts of unfortunate entanglement in the future. We will beat Islamic fundamentalism when a functioning middle class exists in the Middle East to put down the extremists because extremism is counter to their interests. Trade will moderate the region and the religion far more effectively than bombs and breast beating. It is working with China and it would work with the Muslim world, and Cuba too. I just wish the Republicans would take this to heart if they are going to run the government for the next four years.
Doug Bandow has an interesting analysis on the virtues of dividing government written for Fortune and reposted by Cato. Read it here.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Conservative firebrand Bob Barr comes out for Badnarik

Former Georgia Republican congressman Bob Barr upset many conservatives when he joined the ACLU in their fight against the ironically named "Patriot Act" and now he's done it again. Barr has announced that he cannot support big spending, constitution-ignoring pseudo-republican George W Bush and has instead endorsed Libertarian Michael Badnarik. Read the story here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

War costs will soon top 225 billion

The Washington Post reports that President Bush, if re-elected, has a plan to request an additional 70 billion dollars in February of next year for Iraq. Do you remember that assurance that Iraqi oil would pay the costs of reconstruction? Oil prices are at an all time high, yet this money does not seem to be stemming the flow of U.S. tax dollars into Iraq. I find it a difficult tight rope walk for George Bush to say he has done everything possible to improve the economy with that much liquidity being wasted overseas by his administration. This is just one of the contradictions between this administration and conservative ideas about our country's role in the world and in our economy. The Big Republicanism of the Bush administration has many economic conservative and/or social libertarian voters fleeing for the big L Libertarians or the Constitution party, or just staying home. This could end up being the big story of the 2004 election if Bush fails to win. On the otherhand, 71% of Republicans still approve of Bush despite his lack of conservative credentials or credibility. This is, according to Brian Doherty of Reason, an example of a sort of tribalism, a pre-intellectual vision of conservativism, a pack mentality devoid of principles. This is the ultimate failing of all political orders. That the hunger for power will overwhelm the ideals of so many is perhaps the saddest commentary on the intellectual and emotional development of human kind. After so many generations, in spite of stunning achievements, we are still little better than are own desire to impose our will upon others. Even if it costs us our values.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The long shadow of war hangs over Northern South America

Last month Venezuelans went to the polls in a recall election of the country's democratically elected leftist president Hugo Chavez. The exit polls showed Chavez being soundly recalled by a 60%-40% margin, but when election officials announced the results Chavez was said to have survived the recall by a similar tally. The endemic corruption of Venezuela's current ruling elite now threatens more than its own democracy. Chavez has nationalized industry, fired his professional oil managers, increased the cost of international oil companies doing business in Venezuela by more than sixteen times, cozied up to Castro's Cuba, handcuffed the media, cut deals with Iran, waged war on landowners in his own country and arrested political opponents. But all this would be of only marginal concern to the rest of us (Venezuela is one of the United States top oil suppliers) if it were contained to Venezuela. Unfortunately, Chavez has also massively increased Venezuela's military budget and has been on a buying binge. He has purchased large numbers of tanks, air craft and missile systems from, you guessed it, Russia. At the same time, Chavez has been escalating his rhetoric against Columbia and massing forces on their shared border. Most recently, Chavez has claimed that his right-wing opponents, who undertook an unsuccessful coup with tacit US support a couple of years ago, are hiding in Columbia's border region plotting to assassinate him. This, taken with usual border tensions and Chavez's need to distract his people from his criminal mismanagement of the country, would seem to indicate that a war between Venezuela and Columbia could be a very real possibility. Look for Venezuelan forces to make probing border incursions in the coming weeks under the alleged intent of "rooting out" these supposed right-wing Hugo haters that are supposedly plotting to remove him. The potential headache for the next administration would be intense. Likely the US, which already has forces in Columbia and neighboring Bolivia, would become involved. Then Brazil would have a real dilemma. Brazilian president Lulu de Silva is himself a left winger and friend of Chavez and would be under tremendous pressure to aid Venezuela. Add the Castro factor and this could be a huge conflagration in a very short time span.

Friday, October 22, 2004

The myth of gender & sexual neutrality

One of the questions that came up at the recent presidential debates was about homosexuality. The candidates were asks if homosexuality was based on genetic predisposition or choice. Kerry answered quite correctly that it is a matter of genetics, however the cogency of his answer was obscured by his stupid political calculation to make his answer about the Vice President's daughter. The President punted the questions, suggesting that it is simply unknowable. Unfortunately for Bush, that's patently untrue. The "choice theory" about sexual predisposition is an extension of the nurture versus nature argument about sexual identity that raged in the Sixties and Seventies. The nurture model as advanced by Dr. John Money and now largely discredited suggests that we are born gender neutral and our sexual identity is "assigned" through environmental and social factors. The nature model observes differences in the brain structures of men and women and concludes that sexual identity is "hard wired". Similarly, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that a person no more chooses his preference in sexual partners than he chooses his gender identity. It is a matter of nature, not nurture and certainly not choice. This research represents what I believe will ultimately become the scientific underpinnings of the end of institutional discrimination against homosexuals in this country. If the conventional wisdom is that homosexuality is a healthy and normal natural process, it will go a long way towards demystifying homosexuality and allowing acceptance of homosexual lifestyles into the fold of conventional American social life.

Liberty on the ropes?

An October 14 Rasmussen Reports survey found that a third of Americans (31%) believe that America is becoming a police state! Read the entire survey here.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Good money says Bush...barely

I have always been of the impression that if you want to know what people really believe, look at how they spend their money. For example, as a pizza delivery driver I discovered that people with Democrat-supporting yard signs are more likely not to tip. A more scientific example of this phenomenon are stock markets. A market price is a representation of how people feel about a given company and that company's prospects for the future. The Iowa Electronic Market allows individuals to invest in politics and news events rather than companies. One of the markets available for trade is the presidential race. Currently George Bush shares are trading at .51 and John Kerry shares are trading at .494. It's gonna be close!

The United Nations, your tax dollars at play

Today the the UN special investigator, hen house guarding fox Paul Volker, released a list of companies that did business under the Iraq-UN oil for food program. Brit Hume described the release as a "rare example of the release of public documents" by the UN. Set aside that the son of UN secretary-General Kofi Annan ran the program and the fact that Volker was appointed by Annan and lacks subpoena power. Set aside that the head of the UN's Internal Affairs Department is, himself, chest deep in oil for food and refusing to cooperate. You can even set aside the fact that the companies that benefited from oil for food were largely from security council countries that opposed US action in Iraq. Forget all of that and you are still left with the biggest financial scandal in the whole of human history! By the UN's own numbers, the program generated more than 62 billion dollars and the Iraqi regime earned more than 10 billion through smuggling and kick-backs. The bank that handled all that dirty money? PNB Paribus, a French banking interest with close ties to Chirac's inner circle. Hmmmm. But there is a bigger question that comes out of this mess. Does the UN have the credibility and the flexibility to deal with large global issues effectively? The evidence points to no. The UN has been overpriced, under-effective and largely impotent since its inception. It has failed to prevent genocide in Sudan, Rwanda, Iraq, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Yugoslavia. It has been unable to stem the spread of AIDS, improve living conditions in the Third World or prevent armed conflict. It has had some limited success in peace keeping, but even this has been at a massive price and at the cost of national sovereignty to nations around the world. The UN has given a forum and comfort to the worst human rights violators in the world. All the while, it sponges off the United States as its members attack us, our values and our leadership. The oil for food mess is only a small aspect of the problem. The US should withdrawal from the UN and tell them to go set up shop in Brussels. It does not serve our interests but we pay the price for its incompetence. Neither Bush, nor Kerry will tell you this because the political price for that kind of candor would be fatal. And so, American presidents continue to go to the UN with hat (and check book) in hand asking for cooperation from countries that despise us and at the cost of our credibility.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Paying for thy Oreos, the FCC and Canada's Healthcare Mess

Today's Cato Institute Daily Dispatch has three interesting items. One looks at the "public health crisis" regarding obesity that the government has created in order to extend the perverbial wars on drugs and tobacco to food and, hence, justify taking health care choice away from from individuals. In a related piece, a WSJ study looks at wait times in Canadian hospitals and gives further proof of the perils of single payer health care. Finally, Cato looks at the internet telephone revolution and the attempts by Michael Powell and the FCC to create a "right" for the federal government to regulate the industry in the name of "protecting" the market.
The Libertarian Parties national presidential TV ad campaign kicks off tomorrow with commercials running on Fox News during prime time. Check the ad out here.

John Kerry's law of unintended consequences

I do not believe for a second that John Kerry intended for his words to be used by the Vietcong to harass our POW's in 1972. However this was the effect. I would have hoped that John Kerry would have learned from that incident that words matter and a leader's words have effects that can be tragic, but here's a story that got below most people's radar. This story goes directly to the question of John Kerry's judgment. Political opportunism drives this man, he proved that in his post-Vietnam activism and he has proven it again in this campaign. I fear George Bush for being an imperialist who is completely ignorant of the function or sanctity of the Constitution, but I fear John Kerry more because he is a naked political opportunist who would say or do anything if he felt it advanced his personal agenda including, but not limited to, being imperialistic and ignoring the Constitution. Say, for example, spread a rumor that the draft would be re-instated by George Bush or that Private Social Security accounts is code for leaving Grandma on the front porch overnight in January. I think that John Kerry's lack of judgment combined with his naked ambition could, if elected president, lead to far worse unintended consequences than angry Haitians and tortured POW's.

Monday, October 18, 2004

T.A.C. makes the case and Bush's Police State

The American Conservative has opted to give each of its editorialists the chance to endorse his own candidate rather than make an endorsement as a group. The overriding message of all of these writers is that George W. Bush is the pits. Pat Buchanan argues unconvincingly and unconvinced that we should choke back the tears and pull the lever for Dubya. Howard Phillips and Taki make much more ringing endorsements for Michael Peroutka. Scott McConnell thinks Kerry is the best bad choice. Alan Bock suggests that the Michael Badnarik is the best vehicle for despondent conservatives. Justin Raimondo says its all about Nader. Kara Hopkins says, "Just stay home!"
Dissent will not be tolerated by America's monarch. Be VERY afraid! Read a review of James Bovard's new book, The Bush Betrayal, here. Buy it here.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The vice of fairness

Earlier today, I listened to the Fox News Sunday panel nashing their teeth and nuckling their foreheads over the question of fairness and presidential politics. At issue, the declared intention of Sinclair Broadcasting to run a "documentary" about John Kerry's post-Vietnam activities just before the November 2 election. The question before the panel; is this fair? They analysed, they debated, they gamed various scenarios, but what I was waiting for never came. No one ever ask the most important question, does it matter if it's fair? The congress passed and the president signed the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Law which specifically limited the abilities of citizens and outside groups from participating in our "particapatory" democracy. Of course, this didn't prevent anything, except accountability. The 527's rose from the loopholes and began affecting the carefully scripted and stunningly misleading messages of the two major parties. Bush and Kerry screamed, "It isn't fair! McCain-Feingold was supposed to put a stop to this...this...participating" Michael Moore made a movie and the Swifties made a commercial and before you knew it, the entire exercise of preventing debate on the virtues and vices of Dubya and Franken-face was blown to hell. All the while the call went out from both camps that it wasn't fair. The President went so far as to say that McCain-Feingold was supposed to prevent outside groups from participating in the election. This betrayal of the Constitution alone should be grounds to not only un-elect him, but bring him up on treason charges! How have we gotten to the point in this country where people freely coming together to articulate a position and have their voices heard in the election of the chief executive of the United States are considered an anathema? And it is all in the name of fairness? Or the desire to obtain and retain political power, even at the expense of the very fabric of what makes America unique and special. So should Sincair be "allowed" to air this hit piece on Kerry? You bet, and if you don't like it then get your own TV company and run Farenheit 911 in continuous loop for the next two weeks. My America is not defined by fairness at the expense of liberty, but rather by free people presented with chooses and left to make rational decisions based on their values and beliefs. Shielding people from information and opinions, no matter how shifty, injures our society and makes us dependant on the intellectual gatekeepers who decide for us what we can "handle" and what we cannot. Oh yea, and also...Teresa Kerry eats babies ;-)

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Less voting equals a better republic

I often take a contrarian view on what is considered the conventional wisdom and the topic of voting is no exception. As MTV charges that we choose or loose and P-Diddy warns that we must vote or die, I would prefer to see a lot less voting. Let's be honest, most people in this country are to busy pursuing their happiness to pay much attention to what happens on Capitol Hill and that's fine. But why do we collectively brow beat these same proverbial islands unto themselves to put aside their busy schedules to drag down to the local middle school every four years to elect the president? If you don't know who Donald Rumsfield is, you shouldn't vote. If you can't identify the 10th amendment, you shouldn't vote. If you currently receive direct transfer benefits from the government, you shouldn't vote. Voting is not a right, it is a priviledge. This is born out by the fact that felons can be stripped of voting priviledges in many states. All priviledges granted by the state are contingent on accepting responsibility. That responsibility included being engaged, educated and rational; responsible enough to register in time, responsible enough to know where and how you vote, responsible for being able to articulate the core principles that have led to the selections you have made and responsible to show up at the polling place with photo I.D. in hand. I would far prefer a system that limited the vote to property owning persons over the age of twenty five, who have proven residency and citizenship, as well as completed a short quiz that shows the voter has sufficient political knowledge to make an informed decision. So ask yourself if you meet these criteria, if not stay home.

Barr on Bush and Political Ignorance in America

Former GOP congressman Bob Barr recently laid out a long list about the ways that George Bush has betrayed conservatives and botched the economy. Read it here
Ready to be depressed? Here are some facts about American's political knowledge. I will soon address the question of voting "rights" and the current trend to get everyone with a pulse (and some without) to the polls no matter how little business they have participating in a system they don't even understand.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Badnarik for President TV Commercials

Check out the LNC's presidential T.V. ads here

Do it to us one more time (Presidential Debate #3) (Post-debate analysis)

I really have not believed in the last year that the Democrats had a real chance of taking the presidency in this cycle. I' m not so sure now. The idea that John Kerry, an aristocrat and political whore of the highest order, might obtain the top office in the free world now seems likely, but strangely comforting. Bush clearly does not deserve to win and should be turned out, but the idea of a liberal Democrat running the government doesn't scare me as much as it has in years past. Perhaps that is because four years of one party rule has proven that dissent is not enough, the checks of the opposition are necessary to prevent, well....this. Don't get me wrong, I would rather chew my arm off than vote for Kerry, but the Republicans will control congress, the conservative Supreme Court Justices will hold off to retire and, with all the bitterness between the parties, no legislation will move. Kerry will be blamed for the continuing mess in Iraq and he will be forced to follow pretty much the same course as Bush. I thought four years ago that a Gore win would assure Republican dominance for years to come and I imagine a Kerry win will have the same effect. It is a lot easier to oppose then lead. John Kerry may soon find this out.
On an unrelated note, with oil over $50 a barrel, Venezuela has just increased the royalties it charges foreign oil companies to drill by over 16x! Hugo Chavez calls move a step towards nationalization. I call it a step towards an investment in a scooter, or roller blades. I already drive a Metro, I can't even afford to keep the hampster wheels in the driveshaft stocked!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Do it to us one more time (Presidential Debate #3) (Real time analysis)

Tonight's debate illegally used public funds while excluding one of Arizona's three lawfully recognized and registered presidential candidates, Michael Badnarik. That said, I have just listen to a Democrat endorse corporate welfare and fiscal "responsibility" and a Republican list a litany of new entitlements for jobs and education. The only real difference between today's major parties is whether to drive or take the bus to ruin.
"WHAT ABOUT DINGLE-NORWOOD!!!" Sorry, flashback.
Is what Kerry said about trade declining during this administration true? I guess when you require visa's from almost every nation we have ever considered friends and impose protectionist policies on the free market that is bound to happen. Kerry is on thin ice about free trade, of course, since he seems to support sweeping protectionism a la unions. Pick your poison America.
I don't get Kerry's attack on VA funding. Is there any scenario, no matter how rosy, under which every old cotger won't find something to complain about? Not that the VA is a good option for our veterans, but it isn't Bush's fault, it's a long forgotten congresses fault for setting up the bloody thing in the first place. The VA IS a disaster, do you really want the government mucking up everyone else's health care even worst than they already have? Then don't vote for these guys. The differences in their health care plans are cosmetic, they both work on the overriding premise that only government, with the right set of programs, can fix the health care system that government wrecked!
Immigration: Why is an American more entitled to pick strawberries to support his family than a Mexican? Again, the main difference between these candidates is how they will use the power of the government to limit human and economic liberty.
Bush will pick judges that will interpret the Constitution. Great. Are there any judges left that just want read the Constitutions and do what it says?
Education: It is a toss-up as to which of these candidate's will waste more of our money on the dreadful public education system. Bush brags that he has increased education spending by 49%. Isn't that like bragging that you are spending twice as much money on the lottery and still drive a 1981 K-car?
Bush, "...the international world." I give up, I need a beer. God help us all.
On an unrelated and strangely hopeful note, check out Jonathan Rauch's excellent article from Reason Online about how little is actually at stake in this election.

Do it to us one more time (Presidential Debate #3) (Pre-debate)

Why are they having another debate? I'm watching MSNBC where the panel has just laid out everything the candidates will say and what every retort will be. So I guess the only reason to watch is to see if Bush snaps at the moderator or Kerry's head explodes. That would be interesting. Maybe Bush would be taken out by skull fragments. Would Edwards and Cheney then be standing for president or would the whole thing cause a Constitutional crisis and end up in the courts? After all, that's not who the parties nominated for president. The mind wobbles. Jeff Greenfield wrote a similar plot into a book called "The People's Choice". He ask what would happen if a candidate won the presidency, but died before the Electoral College could meet to cast their ballots. Since the electors where sworn to the dead guy for president and not the V.P.-elect, where they Constitutionally obliged to vote for the veep, the dead guy or someone else. I'm not telling, you'll have to read the book.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Throw Away Votes?

I have heard so many people make the point lately that a vote for a Green, Libertarian, Socialist, Constitution or any other independant party is a throw away vote. There are several problems with this analysis. For one thing, it presumes that, rather than earning a vote, Republicans and Democrats are entitled to it by default. Another point is that the two parties are limited in their appeal. They either have to stand on specific principles and alienate many voters or stand for nothing and govern accordingly. More and more that is what you get, watered down policies that satisfy neither pragmatism nor ideology. Another important aspect of this issue is competition. Whether in the free market or the marketplace of ideas, competition drives excellence. Without challenges to their philosophies, the Republicrats have grown lazy and complacent about satisfying the desires of voters. If voters perceive having only two choices then the parties can pander to their bases and leave the rest of the electorate to disenfranchisement or quandary. The two party system has also created corrupt institutions that exists solely to prevent other parties from challenging the supremacy of the status quo. The Federal Elections Committee is made up of Republican and Democratic appointees that regulate elections accordingly. One needs look no further than the current efforts by the Democrats to keep Ralph Nader off the ballot to see the fear that drives them to shut down democratic processes in order to secure their own power base. If Michael Badnarik's strong showing in polls in Nevada and New Mexico ultimately deny the White House to George W. Bush, you can bet you will see similar efforts by the Republicans to deny ballot access to Libertarian and Constitution party candidates in four years. The system is irreparably broken and the "lesser of two evils" excuse for voting for a Republicrat no longer holds water. Voting Republican or Democrat is a choice between committing a third degree felony against human liberty or a second degree felony. Better to commit no crime at all and vote honestly, based on your beliefs rather than make yourself an accomplice after the fact to the destruction of American democracy and American Constitutional liberty.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Saudi Arabia IS the enemy

Rather than offering analysis of Saudi Arabia, I would rather just list some facts and let you draw your own conclusions:

1. 15 of 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis
2. The Saudis have supported Wahhabi-ism, the retrograde ideology spouted by the Taliban and Al Qaeda and funded its teaching it their schools
3. The Saudis have announced they will not allow women to vote in upcoming elections (The legitimacy of which has been called into question)
4. As Tom Friedman points out, Wahhabi-ism was allowed to flow across the border infiltrating Iraq and replacing Western sympathies with religious intolerance
6. Saudi Arabia's government supports campaigns against Jews and Christians in the Realm.
This is America's best friend in the Middle East? How can we suggest we are fostering democracy in the region when we support thuggish, undemocratic, anti-modern regimes like this? America has no credibility in this area specifically because we have supported Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and Russia. All of these governments are seen as being oppressive to their Muslim populations, then we invade Iraq and are surprised that the people there would question our motives? Bush is fond of talking about consistency. When our actions don't match our values, how can we expect the world to take our values seriously?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

If you want to protect marriage, ban it!

Do you know why the first marriage license was issued in the United States? Historically, holy matrimony meant just that, a union sanctioned by the church, witnessed by God. However, the racist inclinations of America's past gave rise to a concern about race mixing. Marriage licensing was a way to socially engineer an outcome considered desirable by the conservative, family values crowd of a bygone age. So great was the paranoia and racism in those times that government was used as a tool to undermine free association and human liberty. This was certainly not the only time, but while slavery, Jim Crow laws and poll taxes have gone the way of many of histories distorted, anti-liberal bad ideas, marriage licensing is a sad and tragic relic of a less humane and unsophisticated time. Today, this tool of oppression is again being wielded to prevent free association and the expression of human freedom with the same motivations and excuses concocted years earlier to justify this un-American practice. Whether to promote an anti-black or an anti-gay agenda, the negative effects on our society and our shared humanity are the same. As America debates the question of gay marriage, I suggest to pundits on both sides of the issue that they are fighting for the wrong cause. Legal sanction or suppression of gay marriage should not be the desired end, but rather an end to the practice of looking to government for the legal foundation of marriage. This is the real conservative position. For almost the whole of human history, the church has been the keeper of this sacred authority as it rightfully should be. The modern desire to socially engineer a society desirable to those that hold the levers of power has undermined this authority and weakened the role of the church in American life. It is by the rules of God, as interpreted and implemented by each denomination, that should govern marriage, not the whims of the political elite. If the Unitarians interpret marriage differently than the Catholics, then so be it. There is no advantage gained by uniformity. The interest of the state in marriage should only be in the mitigation of contractual disputes just as it does for every other type of contract, both written and verbal. This will also end the institutional bias of mother over father and care giver over provider that today permeates our family courts.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Your Eyes Deceive You (Presidential Debate #2)

Over the years, I have occasionally heard reference to that first Kennedy-Nixon Debate by way of giving example of the power of visual media. It is said that those that listened to the debate on radio believed that Nixon won handily. While those that could compare the young, handsome Kennedy to the unshaven and grim Nixon on T.V. thought that Kennedy won. I always found this to be a rather sad commentary on the triumph of style over substance, but it was an example from a bygone era. Perhaps 40 plus years of acclimation to visual media have made Americans more savvy. Right? Last night I found myself traveling and unable to plant myself in front of a television for the second of three Bush-Kerry match-ups. I tuned to Fox on my car satellite and listen on the radio instead. My first impression was cynical in the extreme. "How am I supposed to rage about these bozos being inarticulate, spineless wet noodles in stuffed suits if they're going to have substantive, well reasoned exchanges about actual issues?" My second thought was that Bush came with his game face on. He was well spoken (no small feat), versed on the issues and passionate. Kerry, for his part, was every bit as good as he was in the first debate, but his effectiveness seemed blunted by Bush's good performance. Then I came home and turned on the talking heads. They appeared to agree that the night once again belonged to Kerry and the flash polls agreed. What!?! The talk of issues came up from time to time, but mostly it was talk about body language, cut-a-ways and Bush seeming at the edge of anger, ready to attack poor Charlie Gibson. None of this came through on the radio and the impression left was clearly very different. But does it really matter? In 25 days, America will go to the polls and decide which government-expanding, freedom-curtailing militarist will be the next President of these United States. The real loser, it seems to me, is all of us.
If you would like to know why you shouldn't want to vote for either of these guys, I recommend catching the debate between Michael Badnarik(L) and David Cobb(G) that is running this weekend on the PBS program Now with Bill Moyers. Check your local listings.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Questioning the Candidates

Later tonight, John Kerry and George Bush will meet in the second of their three debates. This one will be a "townhall" style meeting where undecided voters will ask the candidates questions through a moderator. This got me thinking about what I would ask the candidates if I had a chance. For George Bush, "In 2000 you ran as a free trader. Since then you have used the power of the Presidency to impose trade restrictions on seafood, lumber and steel. Your administration has pulled out of free trade talks and recommended the imposition of economic sanctions on several occasions. You accuse John Kerry of flip-flopping, what do you say to economic conservatives that voted for you four years ago because they believed they were getting a free trader in the White House?" John Kerry is tougher because I am still not sure where he stands on most issues. My first thought was, "What the f*** are you talking about?" I realize the need to be more specific, so I narrowed it down to, "You have said, on varies occasions that you will withdrawal U.S. troops within six months, you would internationalize the occupation, we must win no matter the cost, we are spending to much, Saddam Hussein is a threat to American security, Iraq was the wrong war at the the wrong time and we must not wither in the face of terror. You have called for a large coalition and UN support, but when we had those things for the first Gulf War, you voted against it. Senator Kerry, What the f*** are you talking about?"
If you could ask the candidates any question you want, what would it be? E-mail me at or simply click the "comment" link and then click the "post comment" and then choose the "comment anonymously" link.
If you haven't seen Jib-Jabs musical cartoons about the presidential race called "Good to be in D.C." and "This Land" than your in for a treat when you click the link below. (Rated PG-13, Flash Required)

Weak Economic Growth is a Repudiation of Keynesian Theory

How on Earth can you have round after round of massive tax cuts and still have anemic economic growth? The short answer is too much government spending. As Milton Friedman explained, there are four ways people spend money. They spend their own money on themselves, here they are concerned with both value (as the purchaser) and quality (as the consumer). The second way is spending their own money on someone else, as the purchaser they are still concerned with value, but because they are not consuming the good or service they are less concerned with quality. The third way is spending others money on themselves. In this case, value matters less because they did not sacrifice to earn the funds being spent, but because they are the consumer, they care about quality. The fourth way is spending someone else's money on someone else. In this instance, neither value nor quality matters. Individuals usually spend money in the first way, government always spends money in the fourth way. Put more simply, money in private hands tends to go from less productive to more productive uses, while money in public hands tends to go from more productive to less productive uses, i.e. creates neither jobs nor wealth. Bush has tried to stimulate economic growth by increasing both private and public spending as Keynesian economists would recommend, but the results have been that the public spending has canceled the wealth modifier of private spending and failed to create the desired economic outcome. While some deficit spending is acceptable in order to increase liquidity during economic slow down, government simply cannot spend its way into prosperity.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Nuclear Non-Proliferation is a Fantasy

You don't want to hear this, but the US media is unlikely to mention it and somebody has to be the wet blanket. US and UN efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation is doomed and cannot possibly prevent nuclear weapons from becoming a common part of every major and medium military arsenal in the world. According to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, some 40 countries are currently developing nuclear capabilities. Anyone that understands how technology evolves understands why nuclear non-proliferation is a fantastic policy that cannot work. As technology becomes older and cheaper, it becomes more common. When DVD players came out, they were prohibitively expensive for all but the rich, today you can pick one up at Wal-Mart for less than $60. The same is true with weapons, the US spent billions developing the technology to produce nuclear weapons so it's not necessary for other nation to re-invent the wheel. They only have to acquire the existing know-how and purchase the required equipment. As the case of A.Q. Kahn in Pakistan illustrates, there are plenty of people with both the technical knowledge and the motivation to provide it to any that can pay the price. The U.S. should quite the effort to prevent proliferation and accept the reality of the situation. There is nothing that can be done to prevent a nuclear North Korea, or Iran, or Brazil, etc. The only effective strategy moving forward is to concentrate on deterrence (Keep our own arsenal deployed and ahead of the technology curve), missile defense, effective border security and a good neighbor foreign policy that doesn't provoke nations or non-state actors to a level of animosity where thermo-nuclear terrorism inside the United States becomes an acceptable option.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Freedom Radio

It has been 13 months since I was liberated...from broadcast radio. After careful consideration and much study of the alternatives, I became a subscriber to Sirius satellite radio. I have not regretted this decision for one second. As a pay service, Sirius is free from regulation by the FCC. Because Sirius, along with competitor XM, are forging ahead in a new frontier, they are free to throw out the old, tired radio formulas and innovate. Some of the channels I enjoy are Elvis Radio (Just what it sound like), Chill (Smooth Electronic and Light Trip-Hop), three NPR's, Fox, BBC, Raw Dog (Uncensored Comedy) and World Radio News (Radio Slovenia Rocks!) and over 100 others. Plus all the music channels are commercial free! Satellite radio embodies the greatness of America: risk-taking, innovating and succeeding where the market has created an opportunity. However it is unfortunate that the heavy hand of federal regulators and the undue influence of the morality police make it necessary to find venues beyond their reach in order to practice free, unregulated speech. Just ask Howard Stern, although I personally find his humor juvenile and contemptuous, I would hate to live in a country where he couldn't insult the intelligence of any listener with two brain cells to rub together. Now, after years of being fined and persecuted, Stern is leaving broadcast radio to pursue a career in satellite. It's good for Howard Stern and good for liberty that these services exist, but how long will it be until government and condescending moralists find a way to use the coercive power of the state to limit speech in these venues as well?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Dueling over a warm bucket of spit (The VP debate)

Tonight the men who would be king-in-waiting sat down for a friendly chat. It wasn't lost on me that these two made a far more positive impression than their ticketmates did on Thursday in Florida. Cheney was intelligent, articulate and well-studied, everything you want a Republican to be. Edwards was passionate, enthusiastic and, well, out of his element. Much like his party. I found the responses of the cable networks to be far more interesting than the debate itself. CNN's Larry King had a panel that enthusiastically declared John Edwards the winner. Fox was just as quick to pay that honor to Cheney. I turned to MSNBC for the tie-break and their rather moderate to liberal panel headed by Chris Matthews seemed to agree that the night belonged to Cheney. As for me, I wish Cheney was at the top of the Republican ticket, I might be more inclined to vote for them. But the truth is that after the election, Edwards will go back to North Carolina and Cheney will secreted away to his undisclosed location and we'll all forget about both of them.

Judging the Occupation

If George W Bush wins next month, he will have to face the reality in Iraq. We have given them freedom from Saddam and now it's time for them to forge their destiny and it's time for us to refocus on protecting ourselves from Islamic fundamentalism. There can be no doubt that the presence of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have deepened the security dilemma for Iran and increased their haste in pursuing nuclear weapons and missile technology. That is a regional problem. We have done what we have done and now it is time to quit being paternalistic and allow the moderate forces in the Middle East to wage their own war on the extremists. Playing Islam against the West is the most powerful tool that the religious fanatics have (theirs and ours). Every picture of a dead Iraqi child plays into that image and emboldens those that use America as the straw man for their own zealous retrograde beliefs.

Monday, October 04, 2004

How Dubya won the debate (No I haven't been drinking)

That Carl Rove, man....he is a sneaky devil. "O.K. George, the key to the debate is saying as little as possible. When asked a question or forced to respond to Kerry, just mumble something about standing firm or Kerry flip-flops, but for crissakes, don't answer the question. That way, even though everybody will laud Kerry and say he won the debate, he will be handing us 90 minutes worth of positions to attack and we won't give him squat." First, according to his critics, Rove planted the fake documents in Dan Rather's hip pocket and now this. I can just picture him in his purple wizard's robes, standing over the steaming cauldron, "Dark powers!!! I call upon you!!! Show me how to perplex my candidate's opponents while maintaining plausible deniability, raising his poll numbers, and lowering expectations, oh... and I don't want to look overtly political." I doubt this is how it played out, but some time you have got to wonder if Bush was born under the same star as Bill Clinton. Only Dubya could be seen, by a 2-1 margin, as having lost the debate and actually maintained standing in the polls. Rasmussen Reports has Bush by 2.5 and it has been far more conservative than other polls in this cycle. ABC and Pew have Bush by 5 and Zogby has Bush by 3. Now come the economic and domestic issues debates, where the expectations for Bush are very low. Sounds like Carl Rove has Kerry right where he wants him.
On an unrelated note, the head of the UN refugee agency in Gaza admitted to a CBC reporter that his organization is likely employing members of Hamas. Your United Nations dollars at work.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Debating Creation

I was called a hypocrite today. I was discussing evolution and creationism in public schools with a friend when he became quite agitated. "How can an agnostic support teaching creation theory in public schools! What about separation of church and state? What about scientific method?" I always feel I am making headway in an argument when the vein in my sparring partner's forehead begins to pulsate. I don't know if it means I'm winning or if my insufferable sense of my own right-headedness has driven them completely batty, but be that as it may.... "First off, being an agnostic has little to do with the issue. An atheist might call the idea of god mythological and dismiss any theory that is predicated on him, but I am an agnostic, neither believer or non-believer. I simply accept the absence of objective proof as proof of the unknowableness of the question. As for creationism, it is no less unknowable. The same is true of evolution. But I don't want to get bogged down in theology," I said, "because it is a road without end. I would rather deal with the practical question of how to teach the origin of species. On this, I am without doubt. Two predominant theories have wrestled for acceptance, but neither can be proven. To deny the developing young mind the challenge of critically analyzing both denies him the opportunity to engage the most profound and important question a human could grapple with. It is not the answer that matters, from an educational perspective, but rather the question and the skills that can be gained and honed by engaging it. Teaching only one sends the message that students are not capable of objective analysis, evaluation and contextualizing within the framework of the whole body of their belief system. Or worse, it says that the purveyors of each are so insecure in their theory they dare not subject it to scrutiny less it be subjugated by the other. I fear those that fear healthy debate. All over this country people with an ideology threatened to shut out any who question their ideas. This is so much more scary when the forum is the school system that is mandated by law and paid for with the taxes of people from every ideological stripe." My friend mumbled into his latte and changed the subject.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Let Freedom Ring (or, you know...not)

To hear an interview with Libertarian Presidential Candidate Michael Badnarik, click the link below:

Unfortunately, freedom seems to be in retreat in many "democratic" nations. Putin is becoming more and more scary with each passing week. He recently lashed out at Western critics declaring that Russian democracy does not have to look like American democracy. Apparently Russian democracy will be less about voting and representative governance and more about, well, crushing opposition and stifling dissent. Now Putin has turned his Jeffersonian zeal on that profound threat to freedom...the independent judiciary:

Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is obviously a communist nut and now he is proposing selling oil prospecting rights to Iran:

Brazil's democratically elected leftist president Lula de Silva is engaging in some pretty dubious tampering with press freedom ahead of hotly contested parliamentary elections:

Friday, October 01, 2004

me Posted by Hello

So long & thanks for all the sneakers

If American politics in the post-9/11 world has a nuclear bomb, then video of your opponent extolling the virtues of Osama bin Laden must be it. Sneaker clad soccer mom Sen. Patti Murray (Dem-WA) did just that in 2002 and now her Republican challenger George Nethercutt is running an ad featuring Murray's pro-Osama ramblings every hour on the hour in the Seattle market. Read the story here.

My friend Rob sent me the 2004 Parade list of the worst dictators. It's interesting to note that #3, #5 and #8 are all close U.S. allies. I wonder where Russia finished?

Posted by Hello

store Posted by Hello

Initiate, Activate, Mobilize, Win!

What can I do to help elect Ron Paul President?

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