The Freeman's Burden:

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

Monday, January 31, 2005

UN rules against charges of genocide in Darfur

Once more the United Nations has proven that it is little more then a sponge for US tax payer's money. The organization has released a report that concludes that no genocide is taking place in western Sudan despite the fact that government-backed militias supported by helicopter gunships are razing towns controlled by black Africans. The result: 70,000 dead and 2 million displaced into refugee camps. The finding frees member nations from any obligation to actually do anything about it. I am sure the Sudanese targeted by the non-genocide will be relieved to learn that they are just the victims of garden variety ethnic cleansing. As usual, the world community that John Kerry is so fond of is sitting on it's hands waiting for the U.S. to do something so they can accuse us of being imperialists. Read more here.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The petty left

I have to admit, for the last 24 hours I have been a happy guy. Stupid happy. Just won the lottery happy. Last night I watched the Iraqi election unfold with a mixture of apprehension and hope. I was switching between CNN, Fox and MSNBC when the fissure between the "liberal media" and those Fox News reactionaries became very apparent. On Fox, Geraldo was crying with joy and the anchors looked ready to do backflips as polling stations filled and dancing broke out among Iraqis. On CNN, dour faces and grim predictions ruled, even as Iraqis danced and sang in their midst. MSNBC seemed to be the cynical analysis channel as one talking head after another appeared to tell us that this was far less meaningful then we were led to believe and that it could all blow up in our faces any second. I turned back to Fox and set down the remote. Sometimes you just want to smile and live in the moment. Even more predictable then the roles of the cable networks was the circular firing squad that the Democratic Party seems to insist on continuing to engage in. Between Ted Kennedy saying, three days before the election, that America is loosing and should get out and John Kerry and others going on the Sunday shows to tell us that the election isn't that meaningful and repeating their tired lines about Bush, Iraq and the need to involve the "international community," the Democrats look more like petulant children then noble statesmen. To borrow from P.J. O'Rourke, "My name is Legion. I will be your server. Tonight's special is worms." My question is how exactly does grabbing defeat from the clutches of victory advance either the Democrats interest or the countries. Aren't the Dems supposed to be the ones who blather on about nation building and democratization? The only conclusion that one can draw is that they hate George Bush so much that they are willing to shelve their own values and interests. As I have stated before, I want a strong opposition party in this country. Republicans are perfectly capable of stunningly bad ideas and if the the Dems can't offer anything better then negativity and cynicism then they will not be able to counter them. Today has been a good day, no matter what Ted Kennedy says.
I heard an analysis from a frontline commander in Iraq about why this election matters. He said that terrorism is useless when it fails to terrorize. 8 million Iraqis took the insurgents power away from them today and emboldened a nation. Good stuff.

Friday, January 28, 2005


My thinking about the Iraq adventure has evolved over the past couple of years as my head and my heart have vied for supremacy. The realist (and libertarian) in me is appalled by the idea of a war of choice, but the idealist in me can't help but get a little teary when I think about where the Iraqi people have been and where my country has a chance to help them go. There is much to regret; allowing the looting, failing to secure important locations, disbanding the army, etc. But there is much to praise, such as the courage of the US troops and the Iraqi people. Did George Bush lie to get us here? It is a debate that will go on for years. I told friends and family before the invasion even began that the WMD argument was nothing more than fodder for the masses. To paraphrase Tommy Lee Jones from Men in Black, "Person is smart, people are naive, stupid and easily manipulated." Having read Paul Wolfowitz's 1992 quadrennial Defense Review made what was going to happen very obvious. This war was never about WMD or an eminent threat. It was about writing a future for the Middle East that would offer them hope and by extension, offer us peace. That is a laudable goal and perhaps the only way to bring the American people along was to use an easily-digestible fear tactic. But that is very cynical as well and unbefitting the commander-in-chief of the most powerful country in the history of the world. Be that as it may, where ever you are, there you are. And here we are, on the eve of the first democratic election in more than 50 years. No matter how you feel about the war or George W. Bush, now is the time for all of us to hope and pray for the future of the Iraqi people, the Middle East and those warriors that have sacrificed so much to bring us to this moment. To do any less would be unbecoming of any one that beliefs in the values we cherish.

The slippery slope of legislating morality

Writing for Reason, Michael Young looks at two recent examples of the French government stepping on personal liberties and brilliantly draws the connection between excessive federal power and diminishing freedom.
"Exercising the law to curb certain types of expression
effectively shrinks the general confines of free speech."
He illustrates how open, public discussion more effectively marginalize radically bad ideas then government censorship ever could. Read the article here.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Bush blasted for his inaugural message

The Libertarian Party has issued a press release that is both an indictment of and challenge to the Bush administration. In it, they call for more freedom here at home and remind the President, in response to his "mission to spread liberty" message, that he was elected President of the United States, not President of the World. It also contains some dreary statistics about how Bush has expanded the government and spent us into a bottomless pit. Read the press release here.
Writing for Libertarian International, author and former presidential candidate Harry Browne exposes the big lie that was foisted on the American people in order to justify the war in Iraq. He looks at the report by Iraq, prepared for the Security Council, that articulated the current states of Iraqi weapons programs. The report has been proven to be largely true, despite Colin Powell reference to it as a, "catalogue of recycled information and flagrant omissions." I strongly recommend reading this provocative article. You can link to it here.

Blair's futile call for Americans to support Kyoto

British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the conference at Davos yesterday that:

"I support the Kyoto Protocol. Others will not . . . but business and the global
economy need to know this isn't an issue that is going away."
He went on to explain that if the U.S. expected Europe to play ball on terrorism, then the U.S. needs to get behind Kyoto. Read the story here. There are three primary reasons that will never happen. One - the science isn't there, no matter how much many activists want to disagree. Is global warming happening? Yes. Is it as a result of human actions? Maybe. Will the warming trend be significant enough to justify the prescriptions of Kyoto on the U.S.? No. Two - American sovereignty trumps international agreements. To even enter into Kyoto, something congress has no stomach for, would be a violation of U.S. sovereignty and the Constitution. Three - the cost to benefit ratio of Kyoto is unacceptable to U.S. businesses. The price tag to implement Kyoto along with the economic drag it would create far outweigh the potential benefits. The bottom line is that Blair may find common ground between Europe and the U.S., but Kyoto is not the issue to look for it on. Read more about the truth behind global warming hysteria here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Chirac's bold AIDS proposal

Honest to God, there are so many things that I would rather write about then the French. But they just keep baiting me. Chirac has proposed an international tax ready...fuel, airfare and financial transactions. Now, if I remember correctly (and I've been there twice in the last year and a half) the French economy looks a lot like a dead, bloated beached whale. Gas runs more then a euro per liter ($5 per gallon) and unemployment is double digits. There is zero economic growth and even a recent recession. Now Chirac wants to apply this winning formula to the entire world. In typical European fashion, Chirac has decided that the only way to fight AIDS is to take money from everyone and re-allocate it through...the U.N.? This proposal is so bad that it actually plans on taxing the movement of capital between nations. You might as well just throw a wet blanket over the entire international economy. I am also a little confused about how making capital and people more expensive to move around is going to lead to sustainable development in the poorest nations. It seems that if an American gets to keep more money by investing it at home, then there is no reason to invest in, for example, a manufacturing plant in Mexico or Ghana. Read the story here.

Bush's dangerous words

When exactly did it happen? When did Republicans turn into idealists with regards to international relations and when did the Democrats become realists? The Bush inaugural speech laid out a goal that will infuse U.S. foreign policy for years to come.
"Across the generations, we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security and the calling of our time."
It also insures that the "War on Terror" will be completely open-ended. By suggesting that terror is the product of tyranny and that, therefore, America will not be safe so long as there is tyranny in the world guarantees that Bush and his ideological mates will always have a fresh list of "enemies of freedom." Bush paints his agenda with idealism. He extrapolates that the founders believed that it was America's role to spread freedom around the world. That is patently untrue. The founder's understood the dangers of becoming deeply involved in international conflict. By ignoring the sovereignty of other nations and trying to instill our beliefs in foreign lands, we are guaranteeing that there will always be a deep well of hatred and resentment against the United States. Read the complete text of the Bush speech here.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Renewal of the Republic

"There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment and expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom." - George W. Bush 1/20/05


Ronald Sokol compares French and American freedom of speech in light of the latest scandal involving the French Pat Buchanan, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Read the article here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Study finds Europeans are economically risk adverse

I can't say I'm surprised by this study. It serves to reason that the more robust of a social safety net and federally mandated hours, wages and vacation are, the less likely a person will develop a sense of risk-taking and entrepreneurship. Country-by country, the more pervasive the government, the less independent the citizens. Read the story here.
The Libertarian Party News&Features section has an interesting articule from a Vermont Libertarian who is also a career military man. Read the article here.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Sudan continues march towards peace

Just two weeks after signing a comprehensive peace agreement with Christian rebels in the south of the country, Khartoum has now signed a preliminary peace deal with rebels in northeastern Sudan after 16 years of conflict. I can't help but wonder how much of President Bashir's new found desire to get along with his countrymen is a result of the fear that Sudan may be on George Bush's list of Islamist nations that needs some American-style tough love. The State Department declaration that the ethnic purges in Darfur constitute genocide may have been taken as a sign by Bashir that the U.S. was building a legal case for invasion. Instead, the international community has slapped Sudan with sanctions as pressure rises for a negotiated peace to end the violence in Darfur. Read more here. Learn more about Sudan here.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Tensions rising in northern South America

As I predicted back on Oct.23, Venezuela & Columbia are stumbling into a diplomatic quagmire that neither may be able to climb out of. On December 13, free agents (mercenaries) under the pay of Columbian special police, snatched Rodrigo Granda from a Caracas street. Columbia had complained that Venezuela was harboring members of FARC, the Columbian communists insurgents with the name that's fun to say. But Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had not responded, so the Columbians sent the agents to grab Granda. Now Chavez is miffed. He rejected a call for a summit of the leaders of nearby countries and instead demanded a personal apology from Columbia's President Uribe before agreeing to a sit down. In the meantime, Chavez has suspended economic and diplomatic ties with Columbia and recalled his ambassador from Bogota. I remain concerned that this is all just Chavez seeding the grounds for an invasion and the seizure of the often disputed border region by Venezuelan troops. This is a story worth keeping an eye on. In the latest move, Chavez has now claimed that the whole mess is somehow the fault of the United States. Read more here.

Friday, January 14, 2005

62% of Washingtonians want a new vote

The Democrats are throwing anything against the wall that they think can possibly stick in their effort to prevent lawsuits, investigations and growing public discontent with the outcome of November's Washington State governor's race. Unfortunately, (or fortunately if you pay property taxes) the legislature only meets for three months per year, this is day 6. So Gregoire will get to play Governor during the short period that anything gets done.
Rolling Back Government: Lessons from New Zealand is one legislator's explaination of how the nanny state can be dismantled. Good read.

The problem with Atheism

Writing for Reason Magazine, Chris Lehmann reviews a book by an Atheist and points out the central problems with both his arguments and his philosophy in the process. Read the article here.
The Supreme Court's decision to overturn Federal Sentencing Guidelines is a step in the right direction, but still far short of justice. Jacob Sullum, also writing for Reason, looks at the shortcomings of the ruling and the possible legislative backlash. Read this article here.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

French thought-police on the prowl

Orwell called it thoughtcrime, Americans call it free speech and the French call it criminal racism. Jean-Marie Le Pen is once again in hot water with the French state. He is being charged under French anti-racism laws that makes denying the holocaust a crime punishable by fine and imprisonment. The offending remarks? Le Pen told a small right-wing paper that French occupation by the Nazi's was, "not especially inhumane." I know I am awfully hard on the French, but they really make this to easy. As far as I know, the prosecutor has not specified which race Mssr. Le Pen is attacking with his comments. If a crabby old American curmudgeon said something like this people might shake their heads and deride him for being out of touch and maybe senile, but no one would even consider criminal charges. In fact, there would be no statute under which to charge him. We have a saying here in the States, "I don't agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," This is another indication of the total statism, call it totalitarianism lite, that France and other so called "social democracies" are drifting towards. France was once the cradle of European liberty, today it is little more than a poor, broken and unimportant state in an increasingly less relevant neighborhood. What did Rumsfield call it? Old Europe. Not that America is immune from this sort of zealous anti-free speech non-sense, especially since 9.11 and the Patriot Act. But free people must be diligent in protecting their rights and that includes calling prosecutions like this absurd and dangerous to everyone that wishes to express controversial views. (Including me.)
In a rare example of the U.S. Supreme Court doing the right thing, they made it official yesterday...Federal Sentencing Guidelines are unconstitutional and should only be used as a reference. The Cato Institute's Eric Luna explained in a policy report in 2002 why these guidelines are inappropriate, prejudicial and unconstitutional. Read that policy report here.
Two New York teens have been charged under Hate Crime laws for beating a Satanist. It is the latest case showing the absurdity of these laws. Read the Libertarian Party press release about this case and Hate Crime laws generally here.

Tom Friedman's 8 rules for Middle East Reporting

It is handy to keep these in mind as the Iraqi elections approach:

Rule 1:
Never lead your story out of Lebanon, Gaza or Iraq with a cease-fire; it will
always be over by the time the next morning's paper is out.

Rule 2:
Never take a concession, except out of the mouth of the person who is supposed
to be doing the conceding. If I had a dime for every time someone agreed to
recognize Israel on behalf of Yasser Arafat, I would be a wealthy man today.
Rule 3:
The Israelis will always win, and the Palestinians will always make sure that
they never enjoy it. Everything else is just commentary.
Rule 4:
In the Middle East, if you can't explain something with a conspiracy theory,
then don't try to explain it at all -- people there won't believe it.
Rule 5:
In the Middle East, the extremists go all the way, and the moderates tend to
just go away -- unless the coast is completely clear.
Rule 6:
The most oft-used phrase of Mideast moderates is: "We were just about to stand
up to the bad guys when you stupid Americans did that stupid thing. Had you
stupid Americans not done that stupid thing, we would have stood up, but now
it's too late. It's all your fault for being so stupid."
Rule 7:
In Middle East politics there is rarely a happy medium. When one side is weak,
it will tell you, "How can I compromise?" And the minute it becomes strong, it
will tell you, "Why should I compromise?"
Rule 8:
What people tell you in private in the Middle East is irrelevant. All that
matters is what they will defend in public in Arabic, in Hebrew or in any other
local language. Anything said in English doesn't count.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Follow the money

Are you curious about where your Senator or representative gets his money. is a site put together by the Center for Responsive Politics to let us know. I urge everyone to look into their own reps. on this site and ask yourself if they are serving you or serving their big money donors.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Venezuela: Stumbling towards Communism

Hugo Chavez is little more then a statist dictator. His closest allies are Cuba, Iran and China. He has cracked down on internal dissent, muzzled the media and now he has begun the process of redistributing land. The new plan for "social justice" i.e. communism will undoubtedly produce the same dreadful results as it has everywhere else that it has been tried. Why so many leaders have failed to learn from the lessons of history is a mystery to me. Redistribution has never made a country stronger or a people more prosperous, yet it continues to be the mechanism of change of preference for the political left in many parts of the world. The U.S. should know better, but more government and more redistribution of assets remains a popular political sell. Witness Medicare drug benefits and foreign aid. Only freeing markets, capital and land from political control can lead to prosperity. It may not "feel" as good as attempting to use the power of the state to create an equitable society, but as a practical matter, the less government there is, the greater the chance of prosperity.
The never-ending Milosevic trial continues this week in The Hague. Anyone that wonders why the U.S. refuses to endorse the World Court, I give you exhibit A. Not only is the World Court unconstitutional under U.S. law, it also undermines the sovereignty of the nation by giving jurisdiction over an American national to foreign agents.

U.S. Aid should silence critics

Of course, it wouldn't. But Americans have proven once again that we are the most generous people in the world. In addition to the 350 million dollars that the federal government has contributed to the Tsunami relief effort and the costs associated with using two U.S. battle groups to deliver that aid, the Jerusalem Post reports that U.S. corporate donations now top 302 million dollars. This is in addition to the 337 million dollars donated by individual Americans including 10 million donated by President Bush out of his personal wealth. The total response by the United States alone now tops more than 1 billion dollars. I urge everyone to continue to donate to the NGO's that have proven most effective in helping those affected by this dreadful calamity.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism by Mahmoud Abbas

I am hopeful that the election last week of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) to the presidency of the Palestinian Authority can lead to a negotiated settlement between the Palestinians and Israelis. However, anyone that thinks Abbas is simply a pragmatic technocrat as the Western media has portrayed him has not done their homework. Read more about his mixed past here. Among the claims made by Abbas in this book:

"Abu Mazen refutes the Nazi Holocaust as "The Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed." Additionally, Abu Mazen writes that he believes that there were only about 890,000 Jewish victims in Nazi Germany and that these victims were actually the victims of a Zionist-Nazi plot." - Chris McGreal

Atheist lawsuit is a misguided exercise

Michael Newdow, the Atheist who grab the spotlight with his suit to take "under God" out of the Pledge of allegiance, is at it again. He has filed suit in D.C. to prevent the saying of prayers during the Bush inauguration. There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start. As I have pointed out before, the inauguration is privately funded, so even those that want to make the imaginary separation doctrine argument are stymied by that fact. The prayer has been a tradition for as long as we have been a nation, but then again sodomy laws were a tradition too. So I would instead argue that freedom of religion does not constitute freedom from religion. If a group of people, any group, choose to freely associate and, in doing so, exercise their religious freedom, it is totalitarian for an outsider to seek to prevent that exercise thereof. If we elected an Atheist president, I would not expect him to choose to continue the tradition. If a Buddhist or a Hindu became president, I imagine we would be treated to a very different prayer. But to attempt to use the power of the court to impose a belief (or non-belief) on those that do not subscribe to that belief is as counter to the fundamental principles on which this nation and our freedoms are based as any other infringement on the sovereignty of the individual. I am not a Christian and subscribe to no form of mysticism, but it is counter-intuitive to me to expect anyone else to compromise their beliefs to accommodate me. With freedom comes an obligation to accept the exercise of freedoms by others so long as their free exercise does not impose on your ability to freely exercise your own rights. Mr. Newdow is arguing a negative, his position is irrational and anti-intellectual. It is like saying that if a Democrat articulates a position on an issue, it infringes on the right of a Republican to articulate a different opinion. I am not religious, but I am not weakened by the expression of religious rights. To the contrary, I am strengthened by it because in expressing their religious rights, they are tacitly accepting my right to express my beliefs. That is what freedom is all about.
A view from the inside of the Iraq insurgency; Georges Malbrunot, a French journalist, spent four months as a hostage and now he is talking about what he observed. Read the story here.
Can we please have a scandal that isn't referred to as ______gate. I was just reading Michelle Malkin's site where she is comparing, I kid you not, Rathergate & Paidpunditgate. Stop the madness.

French Foreign Minister calls for a fresh start for U.S. & Europe

Michael Barnier, current foreign minister and (hopefully) the next president of France has called for a closer, more amiable relationship between France and the U.S. More pragmatic and less Gallist then Chirac, Barnier is someone that Bush could work with. He has expressed support for the Iraqi elections and encourages a negotiated settlement and a two state solution for the Palestinians, acknowledging America's necessary role. He is also less of a Francophile and more of a Europeanist who believes that a credible and strong Europe is good for the world. (Not that the bloody mess their making in Brussels is likely to lead to that.) He sees America as an ally, unlike Chirac, who sees America as a threat. Read more about his recent comments here.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

U.S. Ambassador says Canada is on board with missile defense plan

This is apparently a surprise to the Canadians, however. PM Paul Martin and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper are mute on the point and the other major parties are all opposed. The issue hasn't even been debated in parliament yet, so I am curious where Ambassador Paul Cellucci is getting his insight. I imagine many Canadians are asking the same question. Read more here.
Here is the complete 2005 Index of Economic Freedoms as measured by Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.
Several countries have libertarian movements that are considerably more successful then the U.S. Costa Rico's Movimiento Libertario has elected 5 congressmen and in New Zealand, LibertariaN.Z. and, to a lesser degree, ACT seek to preserve and extend the libertarian revolution that turned that nation into one of the most free and successful countries in the world after years of central control nearly bankrupted it. There is even hope for France in the form of Liberté j'écris ton nom (Liberty, I Write Your Name) and its beautiful and brilliant young spokesperson, Sabrine Herold. (I must admit, I have a bit of a crush on her)
I encourage everyone to support the United Civil Party of Belarus which is fighting an uphill battle against that nation's authoritarian leadership and their Russian handlers. They document the almost daily abuses by their government on their website and have suffered harassment, detentions and break-ins in their fight to free their nation.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

What is happening in Burma?

Despite it's location near the epicenter of the recent South Asia earthquake, the military regime that controls Burma (Myanmar) claims hardly any damage or deaths have occurred. This account challenges credulity and Reason Magazine's Kerry Howley knows why. Read the article here. Read more about Burma here.

Campaign finance indictment tarnishes Clinton's otherwise stellar ethics record

Just kidding. If I knew a couple that had as many people around them indicted, imprisoned, expatriated or dead under mysterious circumstances, I would take them off my roll-o-dex. Here is the (latest) story.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

California Republican introduced national I.D. card legislation

He will tell you that it is not a national I.D. card, but the legislation introduced by Rep. David Drier (R-Ca.) would require the Social Security Administration to issue plastic, photo I.D. cards that includes social security number and an encrypted computer chip that would allow potential employers to access a national employment eligibility computer data base which would be maintained by SSA and contain personal information about every citizen and resident alien. Drier, however, has a plan to prevent this from being perceived as a National I.D. card; the words "This is not a national I.D. card" will be printed on each card. Well, that should eliminate any possibility of abuse. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that if the Federal Government issues a photo card that I am required to show in order to get a job, then that is a national I.D. card. Read a news story about this legislation here. Read the complete text and overview of this legislation here. Please let Rep. Drier know what you think of this idea by contacting him here.
For the first time ever, the Heritage Foundation & Wall Street Journal's joint survey of economic freedom does not put the United States in the top 10. Read the complete story here.
Sirius satellite Radio has made two big announcements. They will add an instant replay feature to it's popular plug & play Sportster model and they will begin offering live television video service in 2006 in a joint venture with Microsoft.
Sixty years after it's release, F.A. Hayak's herald call to reject central planning and social democracy movements, The Road to Serfdom, is as vibrant and relevant today as ever. Reason Magazine's Nick Gilliespie interviews Hayak biographer Bruce Caldwell about what Hayak believed, what he accomplished and how his insight can be applied to the 21st Century world. Read the interview here.
"Iraq election a step toward a social contract" is a fascinating analysis by Tom Friedman in which he argues that, unlike Eastern Europe, there is no democratic majority ready made and waiting to be unleashed in Iraq. Therefore, it is far from a decided question whether or not the Iraqi people are ready to "liberate" themselves.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Still no Patriot Act convictions for terrorism

Today, the federal government announced that will prosecute a New Jersey man for shining a laser into the cockpit of a private jet. The prosecution will be the sixth in three years under provisions of the Patriot Act; none of those prosecutions have been for terrorism! When John Ashcroft stood before the microphone and assured Americans that the powers given to the fed by the Patriot act would not be abused, he was lying. Anyone who believes that ceeding personal liberty to the government will stop terrorism is diluting themselves. Terrorism has existed as long as societies have; and will exist long after we are dead and buried. Giving up freedom to the state will not make us safer, only less free. The Patriot Act and the upcoming Patriot II should be wadded up and thrown in the trash.

New vote looks more likely for WA governor

It has been one of the strangest and most interesting stories of the past two months; the race for governor of Washington State should have been long over, but a combination of a dead split among voters and a series of bizarre procedural issues and a patchwork of court decisions has thrown the whole thing back up into the air. Republican Dino Rossi won the original count by 261 votes. This triggered an automatic machine recount that gave Rossi a 42 vote margin, but it still wasn't over. The state Democratic party then paid for a manual state-wide recount. In this recount Democrat Christine Gregoire squeaked out a 129 vote lead and was certified as the Governor-elect. However, both the Democrats and Republicans have raised a number of serious procedural concerns about everything from the counting of provisional ballots to spoiled ballots to ballots that were only added to the hand recount after the Democrats went door to door in King county looking for people to sign affidavits saying they "intended" to vote for Gregoire. The latest twists are that King County (Seattle) has certified a count with 3000 votes more then the number of actual voters based on the poll logs! The Seattle Times is also reporting that a large number of provisional ballots were fed directly into voting machines rather then being placed in envelopes and not counted until their validity could be verified. All this has led to a ground swell of support for throwing the whole bloody election out the window and re-voting, a la Ukraine. Sad, but true. The whole process is so damaged at this point that it is simply impossible to know who rightly won the election. Given that most of the blunders and malfeasance seems to have occurred in heavily Democratic regions, I would guess it is Rossi, but it is simply beyond knowing at this point. The best solution is for the voters of Washington to get the chance to make their voices heard clearly and unambiguously. Therefore, The Freeman's Burden is calling for a new election and asking all residents of Washington State to go to the on-line petition and add your name to the rapidly growing role of residents who want to see the rightful candidate residing in the Governor's Mansion in Olympia.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Zero-sum compassion

When I first read about the "controversy" over the cost of the Bush Inauguration, it was on a shrill left-wing blog and I figured that would be the only place that something this stupid would be discussed. To my amazement, this non-story has actually found some legs and has now been tied to the uproar over U.S. contributions to the Tsunami disaster relief effort. As I have pointed out before, the inauguration is being privately funded! If my tax dollars were being used to buy champagne for millionaires, I would be first in the outrage line. However, no tax money (beyond the security the President rightly enjoys) are part of the inauguration's 40 million dollar tab. For the complainer class to use this as a weapon to attack America for its alleged lack of response to the Tsunami crisis is not only dishonest, it is deeply ignorant of economics. This argument suggests that every dollar not spent on Tsunami relief is a dollar that the victims are being deprived of. By that reasoning, every time I go to the local pub for a Hefeweizen and a bacon/jalapeno burger, an orphan in Burkina Faso starves to death. This is, of course, silly, but many liberals believe that this is how money works. I didn't need to read Thomas Sowell to figure out that this is absurd. This lie is disproved in the first few chapters of every "Intro to Economics" book being used today. Wealth is constantly being created and destroyed. I deprive no one of anything when I order that greasy burger and cloudy, delicious beer. In fact, I pay a fry cook, several farmers, a couple of slaughterhouses, some shipping companies, a waitress and two guys in Portland that brew really good beer (plus their employees, their vendors, etc.) These people can then go to banks and use the fact that I am using their services to borrow (create wealth) for new services, products, markets and jobs. So when compassion fascists try to brow beat you for using your purchasing power to enjoy life, give them a quarter to call some one who cares and then remind them that quarter will do more to improve the economic well-being of ordinary people then all the teeth nashing and false sincerity in the world.

Airline security is rightly the responsibility of the airlines

Accountability. It is a word often bandied about in the most generic of ways; sort of an unachievable, but infinitely desirable goal. Airport and airline security is a perfect example. If it were the airlines themselves who were responsible for securing their planes, instead of the unaccountable, inefficient government mess that is the ironically named Transportation Security Administration, security would be better and consumers of airline travel would receive better and less intrusive service. After all, it is the airlines who would not want the bad press associated with strip searching an 80 year old Norwegian grandfather or a Japanese paraplegic. Similarly, any airline held responsible for securing their planes would know that they would never recover from allowing a suicide bomber or hijacker onto one of their flights. Therefore, they would screen smart instead of implementing a baffling patchwork of secret security measures that the TSA now operates under. Left to their own devices and freed from stupid and dangerous politically correct nonsense such as not targeting high risk passengers for additional screening, airlines could deliver better, cheaper and more efficient service to their consumers. This is just another example of how the free market is better equipped then the government to serve consumers.
Another example of an arena that the government should be eliminated from is the maintenance of roads, bridges and railways. Read more on the provocative, but compelling argument for privatizing infastructure.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

A new year challenge to all those who love liberty

Can you imagine, in pre-WWII America, anyone raising issues such as Medicare or the creation of a welfare state, the federalization of education or federal subsidies for student loans and corporate farms. The socialists imagined it and today these things are reality. Murray Rothbard, in his seminal scholarly work "For A New Liberty," argued that the middle is moved by the radicals, not the compromisers. The socialist had ideals and they have never compromised on those ideals; as a result, much of their agenda has become part of mainstream political life. He called for Libertarians to stick to their principles and never compromise. After all, we know what you call a Libertarian that has compromised their principles, that's right...a Republican. Today, The Ludwig von Mises Institute re-released Rothbard's call to mobilize and radicalize if America is ever to be rescued from the drift towards statism. I employ everyone who loves liberty and believes in small, accountable government and free will to take the time to read "The Case for Radical Idealism." I personally want to call on Libertarians and redeemable Republicans and Democrats to stand up in the new year and oppose vigorously the efforts of George Bush and the new statists of the right to rob us of our personal freedoms, expand the federal government and run rough shod over the sovereignty of foreign nations. Say no to Patriot Act II, further military misadventures, the federal effort to use the Commerce Clause to insert itself into state and individual rights and the inevitably disastrous Social Security "reformulation." (End it, don't mend it) Libertarians are making real progress. Medical marijuana and the end of federal minimum sentencing guidelines are steps towards ending this insipid and destructive war on drugs. Oregon has decriminalized the right to die (can there be a more fundamental right then control of one's own life?) Sodomy laws are now all but a relic of a less civilized past. Around the world, inefficient and corrupt state-run industries are being sold into private hands. Taxes are down and a great deal of control over a variety of issues have been handed back to the states; and to the people. We may only be 2% of the population, but revolutionary change does not come from the disengaged and the easily distracted. It comes from committed citizens ready to stand up and take responsibility for the kind of country we want to leave our children.
The Freeman's Burden Reading List
Arm yourself with knowledge

The Year in Excuses

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Kansas Republican prosecutor goes Libertarian

Anderson County, Kansas prosector Fred Cambell has announced that the Republican party of George W. Bush has left him as it has left its principles. He has therefore changed his registration from "Republican" to "Libertarian". I found his reasons for doing so compelling because they reflect my own drift away from the GOP. Read the complete story here.
"A year or two ago, I read the entire writings of Lincoln, seven or eight volumes of his works. And I decided (while reading what he wrote during the founding of the Republican Party) that in this day and age, Lincoln would be a Libertarian. From what he wrote about the origins of the Republican Party, it sounds much more like he was describing the Libertarian Party than the Republican Party we have now." - Fred Cambell

Peace for Sudan?

An amazing thing happened yesterday that very few in the West seem to notice; Sudan's Muslim-dominated central government signed a peace accord with Christian and Animist rebels that have fought for 21 years for the right to self-rule. The accords concludes a two-year long negotiation to end the conflict that has claimed more then two million lives. The most stunning aspect of the agreement is the provision that calls for a plebiscite in six years in which the south will decide whether to remain part of the central government in Khartoum or form their own independent nation. Read more about the peace agreement here. Learn more about Sudan here. There are still two more conflicts going on Sudan. Many hope that this peace agreement will create momentum to force the government to end its support of the genocide in Darfur and to negotiate a truce with insurgents in the far north.
Sometimes you just want to laugh. I find that blowing up little disembodied Al Gore heads does the trick for me. To that end, brings you Liberal Invaders.

A challenge to the American media in the New Year

Looking at the outpouring of support from people of conscience around the world in response to the recent tragedy in South Asia, I can't help but wonder how much better the lives of people in the world's most desperate regions might be if we were made aware in pictures and stories about their plight. Would the world have marshaled its resources to help the survivors of Bam or the victims of war in Sudan, Rwanda, DR Congo and other places if only the media had placed more resources on these stories and less on, for example, the spectacles of the Peterson trial or Michael Jackson. Would the world have brought pressure to bear on Vladimir Putin for his heartless repression of Chechins or on the military regime of Burma. Would aid have flown to Haiti or west Africa if only the media had given their suffering as much attention as it has given Paris Hilton and Barry Bonds. The media has incredible power, not just to inform, but to mobilize. My wish for 2005 is that the media, Fox and CNN in particular, will do the hard work, take the risks and pursue the stories of suffering around the world. Their stories need to be told and those of us that enjoy the blessings of liberty, peace and prosperity need to know how we can help. We share humanity with the poor and displaced and with those who differ on ideology, but those things make them no less human. They do not love their children less; and they too dream of a future of peace and hope.