The Freeman's Burden:

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

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The new democrats

Last Monday, the Clinton Presidential Library opened to much fanfare. As I sat and watched the proceedings I started thinking about the legacy of Bill Clinton. I can't help but wonder if those democrats out there that still think he hung the stars and moon have taken stock of the very mixed record of the Clinton administration and wreckage the Democratic Party has been left in in his wake. Terry McAuliffe, a Clintonista, has got to be the most deserving person in America to loose his job. And he has, but not before he lost the presidency twice to George W. Bush, lost seats in the House and lost seats in the senate. Clinton associates have lost almost everywhere they have run. Governorships and senate seats; Bowles, Reno, Ickes, Gore, etc. The notable exceptions are Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton. I believe the reason is that the Clinton agenda was framed by the Morris strategy of triangulation. Clinton moved the ideology of the party to the center but failed to move the ideology of the rank and file. They were happy that they had a winner and let him get away with programs and policies that they would have lynched a Republican President for implementing. But when Bill left the scene, he left an utterly fractured party. Realists and idealists, divided on fundamental questions like national healthcare, tax policy, the wars, gay rights and harmonic convergence. Kucinich voters will get that joke. Anyway, I fear that the democratic party will be a minority party until enough of them can agree on what they believe in. The republicans know exactly what they stand for on cultural issues, tax policy and our new constant state of war. The democrats know they can't win as the pro-gay marriage, pro-big government and anti-war party, but they can't move the base away from those positions to make a creditable argument to the center and the right. They better get their act together quickly or this country may be facing many more years of one party rule.
Read a fascinating article about the letter's of Josef Mengele here.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Life, death and personal choice

Earlier today, I read an interesting posting on the Fresh Politics Blog. I attempted to post a comment regarding the post, but for reasons my untechnical brain cannot fathom, I was unable to. However it is a powerful issue that touches us all on a number of levels so I invite you to read A Real Life or Death Issue and then read my comments about it. Please feel free to add your own comments as well. - F2S

Harry Browne on Election 2004

1996 & 2000 Libertarian Presidential candidate Harry Browne reflects on the progress and challenges that face the Libertarian movement if they are to become a force in American politics. Read the article here. Read the Libertarian Party platform here.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Why I hate Sean Hannity

Sean Hannity is an anti-intellectual demagogue. The thing that most repulses me about democrats is the fact that their philosophy often relies on emotional appeals to trump reason. I generally have more respect for republicans because they employ reason and rationality to policy-making (current administration excepted) even when the simple emotional appeal garners sympathy and casts them in an unfavorable light. However, Hannity is more like a dem. He relies on rhetoric rather than reason. He uses canned arguements to demonize opponents even when those arguements fly in the face of objective reality. His, dare I say it, Bush-like determination to stick to the script in spite of all evidence to the contrary shows that he has little respect for truth or compromise. Unable to articulate any sort of congent rationality for his positions, or any intellectual consistancy, he instead parrots party talking points even when they contradict the talking points from a previous day. I can't help but be reminded of the Ministry of Truth from Orwell's 1984 whenever Hannity presents his (read "The Party's") views. I imagine a world where dishonest, blind loyalists like Sean Hannity rule would be a very dark and angry place. I just had to get that off my chest. I feel much better now.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The view from "old" Europe

I have returned to the US and am extremely happy to be home. While I value my European friends and enjoy emersing myself in the rich culture and history of the continent, I would never want to live there. On this trip, I was struck by just how deep the divide between the world views of ourselves and the French have grown. Not just on Iraq, but on the role of government and the nature of freedom, the so-called enlightened Europeans have left the planet. It is hard for me to believe that only 15 years after the collapse of the ultimate expression of state control, communism, the Western Europeans have allowed themselves to become slaves of ever-expanding socialist bureaucracies that have robbed them of not only their economic freedom, but now their personal freedom as well. It is hard to meet people of able bodies and able minds that have given over any hope of personal obtainment and success and have instead allowed themselves to become wards of the state. France imposes an 80% tax on gas, mandates a 30 hour work week and five weeks of vacation, and gives everyone access to over two years of generous unemployment benefits. They subsidize manufacturing, farming and fishing while asking the workers to bear the burden of this massive drag on the economy. The state gets bigger, the people get poorer and more dependent and the culture slowly decays. Meanwhile, they occupy Ivory Coast and have killed scores of Ivorians that have protested this occupation. They have destroyed the government's air force and supported an insurgency. All the while calling us imperialists and murderers for out intervention in Iraq. I have believed for some time that our differences with the French were shallow and would pass with time but I no longer think this is the case. As Chirac traveled this week to England and arrogantly denounced his host and insulted Great Britain's relationship with the US, I realized that his speeches about opposing a unipolar political alignment were more than just political rhetoric aimed at shaming America into acting in France's interest instead of our own, Chirac believes that the US is the greatest threat to world peace and that the proper role of France is to oppose us. I think this is a tremendous and frankly stupid misreading of the current political world order, but more over it shows that France does not necessarily share our values. Perhaps because our intervention in Iraq means no more lucrative oil for food kick backs for the Chirac administration or its client corporations such as Fina and the French arms industry or perhaps because he needs a bogeyman to distract the French people from the problems at home that his administration has been incompetent to resolve, Chirac has made us the enemy. I hope that as Americans we don't forget this in the event that France finds itself, once again, needing our support. In a way, they represent a far greater threat than Islamic terrorists. While the terrorists can hurt us with bombs and bullets, the French and like-minded nations can undermine our ability to act effectively in our own interests and the interest of liberty around the world.
57% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of France

Wednesday November 17, 2004 A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 25% have a favorable opinion of that nation. In fact, more Americans believe France is our enemy (31%) in the War on Terror than believe Jacques Chirac's country is our ally (22%). A plurality, 43%, believe that France's role is somewhere in between ally and enemy. These numbers stand in stark contrast to Great Britain. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of Americans have a favorable opinion of Tony Blair's country while only 9% have an unfavorable view. Eighty-three percent (83%) of Americans view Great Britain as our ally in the War on Terror. Germany, Russia, and the United Nations fall in between these extremes. Forty-four percent (44%) of Americans have a favorable opinion of the UN while 42% have an unfavorable view. Thirty-three percent (33%) of voters see the UN as our ally in the War on Terror and 17% see it as our enemy. Forty percent (40%) of voters have a favorable opinion of Germany while 34% have an unfavorable view. For Russia, the numbers are 33% favorable and 38% unfavorable. By a 77% to 11% margin, those who voted for President Bush have an unfavorable opinion of France. Kerry voters are more evenly divided--42% of Kerry voters have a favorable opinion of that nation, 35% unfavorable. Forty-three percent (43%) of Bush voters say France is our enemy in the War on Terror. Only 17% of Kerry voters share that view.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Europeans face deep economic and social pressures

Dateline: Vannes, France

The EU has been smacked with a one-two punch of bad, though not unexpected, news. First, an EU economic report released yesterday has found that the current batch of retirees will soak up vast quantities of the continents wealth for the next fifty years. As populations dwindle, this means that either taxes will have to be raised by 40%, destroying the meager economic growth the continent has been managing, or raising retirement ages and lowering benefits, which would require political will and bravery that few around these parts seem to have the stomach for. In a second report issued this week, the EU released economic data that shows worse than expected results in the latest quarter with France and Germany managing only .01% growth as oil prices rise and a strong Euro dampens exports. What does all this mean? The quality of life on the continent is on the decline with no end in sight. Prices are rising so quickly that middle class Europeans are slipping into poverty and opting out of starting families. This will, in the long run, further erode economic and social stability as Europe looks to immigration to prop up its failing socialist systems. Mass immigration is seen as a necessary evil in a post 9/11 world where many fear that the influx of foreign workers will ultimately be the death knell for the cultural identities of the European states.
The Freeman's Burden is deeply hopeful that with Arafat gone, a more responsible Palastinean leadership will now take the tough descisions necessary to achieve a viable and peaceful state, but I am not holding my breath.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Bush Re-elected, French not crying in the streets

Dateline: Vannes, France

Much to my surprise, the French have reacted with resignation to this weeks re-election of George Bush. While many express a lack of understanding into the American mindset, that is pretty typical. On an unrelated topic, this country continues to hold its collective breath in the hopes that Arafat will recover. I didnt have the heart to tell them that I was hoping the exact opposite. None the less, the food is wonderful, the people warm (something Americans refuse to believe) and the sense of self-rightiousness undeterred. C est la vie.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Monday, November 01, 2004