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, September 15, 2005

Emperor Bush appears naked on your T.V.

Tonight, the President gave a breathtaking speech in which he defined poverty as a function of racism, government redistribution as the solution to poverty, and the feds as the lead agent in reconstruction after Hurricane Katrina. All that and you get to pay for it!

The silliness actually went all the way to a plan for government run website to serve as a clearing house for charitable giving. As if any idiot with a big heart, a visa card and a mouse couldn't find a worthwhile charity to give to without a government program.

The President seems to have abandoned any shred of conservative principles that may have survived his first five years in charge of this massive, inefficient government. The speech, and the program outlined, are far more LBJ then Ronald Reagan.

As the Cato Institute points out, the President's plan is based on fallacy:

In "Hurricane Economics," Alan Reynolds, a Cato senior fellow, writes: "The alleged 'fiscal stimulus' of $62.3 billion of debt-financed federal funding in the hurricane-afflicted cities is pure illusion. The notion that replacing destroyed property will somehow boost the economy is, as economist Walter Williams reminds us, the old 'broken window fallacy' exposed by Frederic Bastiat in 1848.

"Breaking windows may create work for glaziers, but property owners whose windows were broken will then have less money left over to spend on something more enjoyable. Society then has to devote scarce real resources to this unfortunate task, rather than another. Meanwhile, interest expense on the extra $62.3 billion of national debt is a burden on taxpayers, not a free lunch."

This program also assumes that the feds can use tax payers money to alleviate poverty. 35 years and trillions of dollars wasted on poverty programs prove the absurdity of this belief.

Even more vexing is the realization that the "Republicans" in Congress, who are anxious to show there compassion and engagement leading up to the mid-terms, will not only pass this massive expansion of government (estimated at up to 200 billion dollars), but will likely add there own pet projects and drive the costs, both monetary and social, through the roof in the rush to out-compassion the other guy. We all know that Bush will never veto legislation and this, no matter how expensive or how badly designed, will not be the first.

I hope my conservative friends are reading this and asking themselves how they would feel about Bush's speech and Bush's New Deal-like vision for reconstruction (and the war for that matter) if it were a Democrat in power and making these proposals.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Constitutional Betrayal

The Washington Post reports that the Fourth Court of Appeals has ruled it is legitimate to waive Constitutionally guaranteed rights if the President deems an individual to be an "enemy combatant."

The amendments violated are the fifth:No person shall be... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law...and sixth:In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury...Instead, by Presidential decree, you may be imprisoned indefinitely, without trial, hearing, or any publicly presented evidence. Tread carefully, friends, for the waters are no longer safe as they once were.

The government claims to have evidence indicting Padilla, but refuses to disclose it. To the public eye, no guilt has been proven. It was once a principle of this country that innocence was presumed until guilt was proved. Unfortunately, executive edict has replaced proof as the factor determining one's fate. Although it is likely that the administration is not lying about Padilla, this is a precedent which must not stand, for it represents the gravest of infractions against the Bill of Rights that George Bush swore to serve.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Katrina makes the case against government

During a Los Angeles radio program, Ari Kelman, a history professor at the University of California, Davis, approvingly quoted a colleague as asserting that Katrina "might be our first libertarian atrocity."

What he meant is that the drive to cut taxes and minimize government, fueled by libertarian sentiments, had supposedly dealt a severe blow to society's capacity to anticipate, plan for and recover from natural -- and unnatural -- disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Democrats and some Republicans are making clear they hope to use the hurricane as a rationale for refusing to extend the tax cuts enacted in 2002-03 and even launching a new poverty program in the guise of hurricane relief.

"Democrats think this is the worst possible time to be cutting taxes," intoned Thomas Kahn, staff director for Democrats on the House Budget Committee.

But if there is a message in Hurricane Katrina, it's not that taxes are too low. Indeed, federal tax revenue is $225 billion higher than a year ago -- and up more than 50 percent in the last decade. Federal spending has been rising fast, too: It's back up to about 19.5 percent of gross domestic product, almost exactly the average of the postwar era.

The problem is that it's much more fun politically to spend billions on highly visible, $225 million bridges to nowhere in Alaska than on stronger levees in New Orleans. In any case, America had large surpluses in the late 1990s, and nothing was done then to strengthen the levees either.

If anything, the response to Katrina helps make the libertarian case. Let's keep in mind that Katrina was the true atrocity, a gigantic storm whose effects took nearly everybody by surprise. But when the partisan hysteria abates a bit, what we are likely to find is that government at all levels failed to perform effectively. Would that be a big surprise?

President Bush deserves blame for thinking that in creating the Department of Homeland Security, and placing a patronage-run Federal Emergency Management Agency within it, he had done something substantive about U.S. preparedness. But state and local authorities performed no better, and in some cases worse.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco reportedly turned down Bush's offer to use federal troops. New Orleans authorities kept their fleet of school buses on the sidelines rather than enforce their mandatory evacuation order. And when the going got tough, a third of its famously corrupt police department took to the hills.

Many of the same folks who have been so quick to criticize government for its failure to get things right during Hurricane Katrina now are demanding even bigger government. There is certainly a case to be made, in the age of nuclear-armed terror, that a president should be able to order troops into an emergency without waiting for an invitation -- though civil libertarians might want to think carefully about the implications once they are through bashing Bush.

I disagree with hard-core libertarians on several issues. But they are right to remind us that government failure is no accident. Political incentives tend to make for a lot of misguided decisions, based more on who has the votes than on who really needs the money.

Fortunately, democracy tends to correct its mistakes more quickly than other forms of government. But citizens shouldn't delude themselves that higher taxes and bigger government will make them much safer in the long run.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Remembering the victims and the heroes of 9/11

On this day, we should all set politics aside and think about how much was lost on that dark day and remember the survivors and how we have all been changed.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Colin Powell fesses up

Last night, Colin Powell gave a revealing interview to Barbara Walters. Below are some excerpts from an article about that interview. To read the complete article, click here.

It was Powell who told the United Nations and the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and posed an imminent threat. He told Walters that he feels "terrible" about the claims he made in that now-infamous address — assertions that later proved to be false.

When asked if he feels it has tarnished his reputation, he said, "Of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and [it] will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It's painful now."

While he said he is glad that Saddam's regime was toppled, Powell acknowledged that he has seen no evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terrorist attack. "I have never seen a connection. … I can't think otherwise because I'd never seen evidence to suggest there was one," he told Walters.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Organizations that came through

The Salvation Army - Which according to the Mayor of New Orleans, “ they just do”. The next day, they had already set up and were serving hot meals in front of their demolished office in New Orleans. All of this despite the fact that the Red Cross insisted it was impossible to get into the area.

Allstate Insurance - When they claim they are the ‘good hands people’, they really are. They could be seen around town helping others.

Wal-Mart - Another organization who was in New Orleans & Biloxi the next day…again, despite the fact that the Red Cross said you couldn’t get into the area. They donated trucks filled with items and hired people on the spot who were left unemployed.

Shoe Station - A chain store in the Southern US. They donated over 20,000 pairs of shoes within days.

Banking Institutions & Credit Unions - You will hear that there is no way a disaster like this could have been prepared for (Gov. organizations). However, private organizations did have master plans in place. The banking industry had an emergency network that went into effect right away.

Local Churches - Know that goods that you donated to your local churches have been received and distributed appropriately. They run circles around the Feds.

Kara Tyson - Mobile, Alabama

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

From the Cato Daily Dispatch

Private Charities, Not Government, to the Rescue

"Former President Bill Clinton on Monday said the government 'failed' the thousands of people who lived in coastal communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and said a federal investigation was warranted in due time," reports.

"He and former President George H. W. Bush have launched the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund to help raise money for those left homeless by the storm."

In "Civil Society to the Rescue," Michael Tanner, Cato's director of health and welfare studies, observes, "Private charities have been more successful than government welfare has at actually helping people for several reasons.

"[Perhaps most importantly], private charity requires a different attitude on the part of both recipients and donors. Recipients learn that private charity is not an entitlement but a gift carrying reciprocal obligations. Donors learn that private charity demands they become directly involved. There is no compassion in spending someone else's money--even for a good cause. True compassion depends on personal involvement.

"Thus private charity is ennobling for everyone involved, both those who give and those who receive. Government welfare ennobles no one."

Cato's Handbook on Congress states: "Any time there is a natural disaster FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is trotted out as an example of how well government programs work. In reality, by using taxpayer dollars to provide disaster relief and subsidized insurance, FEMA itself encourages Americans to build in disaster-prone areas and makes the rest of us pick up the tab for those risky decisions. In a well-functioning private marketplace, individuals who chose to build houses in flood plains or hurricane zones would bear the cost of the increased risk through higher insurance premiums. FEMA's activities undermine that process. Americans should not be forced to pay the cost of rebuilding oceanfront summer homes. This $4 billion a year agency should be abolished."

Monday, September 05, 2005

Come On Mr. President, Let's put a black, female Libertarian on the bench

A black woman with a compelling personal story, Janice Rogers Brown was recently confirmed to a seat on the D.C. circuit appeals court.

She is an outspoken proponent of property rights and a strict constructionist, a quality the the President has said is essential to his considerations in selecting a nominee.

Polls show that over 60% of Americans believe that if the President nominates a well-qualified conservative, the Senate should confirm.

Brown's judicial temperment, and her fiery rhetoric, is far more libertarian than conservative, a fact that came out in her confirmation hearings. Despite this, and despite the tepid defense offered by the Republicans on her behalf, she was still confirmed and, I believe, would also be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

The Democrats will throw a fit and call her a radical, but the Dem's have gone to that well so often of late that it is unlikely to succeed.

It is essential for the health of our republic that judges who believe in and will enforce the Constitution, as written, are put in prominent positions on the highest federal and state courts in the nation. Janice Rogers Brown is a patriot and scholar whose time has come.
The Freeman's Burden ask you to join the call for her nomination and appointment to the US Supreme Court.
Read more here.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Paglia Takes Aim

This week the US gradually awoke to the full cataclysm of Monday's mammoth hurricane, which flooded New Orleans and ravaged the Mississippi coast. It was, as several officials noted, our tsunami.

Weather is daily theatre here, hawked by peppy broadcasters on local TV stations or dissected by grizzled meteorologists on a round-the-clock national cable TV channel. Our annual "hurricane season", as it is casually called, runs from June through November. We are quite used to suspense building over a week or two as a tropical storm registers over the Atlantic, then gathers to careen as a hurricane through the Caribbean or bounce up the Atlantic coast.

Dire predictions have often fizzled out, as hurricanes missed populated areas or weakened dramatically on hitting land. Despite a series of severely destructive hurricanes in the Florida panhandle, satirical jibes at overzealous weathercasters have multiplied in recent years. It was a prescription for disaster.

According to most reports, 80 per cent of New Orleans residents may indeed have obeyed the mayor's appeal to evacuate - which doubtless saved countless lives. But the national media took several days to adjust to the grim and now grotesque reality on the ground. At first, the smooth, exquisitely coiffed news anchors and their posturing on-site correspondents professed cheerful relief that Hurricane Katrina had passed by and spared picturesque New Orleans.

Yet any rational observer could have predicted the delayed effects of flooding - which in this case broke through two of the levees that have protected the fragile, always soggy city from the encroachment of Lake Pontchartrain. It was a disgraceful repeat of the American media's slow response to the tsunami in the Indian Ocean last December, when the star anchors were on Christmas vacation and had to straggle back, visibly peeved, to their studios. Matt Drudge, in contrast, alarmed by the reported size of the submarine earthquake, instantly forecast the enormity of the event and headlined it on his online site, the Drudge Report.

But to ask for powers of scientific or sociological analysis from the preening parrots currently infesting American media is a pointless exercise. The time is long gone when American broadcasting could draw on the talents of foreign correspondents who honed their skills during the Second World War. Edward R Murrow, Eric Sevareid, Howard K Smith, and Walter Cronkite had a gravitas and stoic deliberativeness that seem a million miles away from the flirty smirkiness of the airheaded moppets and gym-sculpted pretty boys who now harangue us from the TV screen.

Hurricane Katrina is simply the latest chapter in the epic of American nature. It is a subject that Europeans rarely show understanding of in their often dismissive comments on US culture. In my latest book, Break, Blow, Burn, I reprinted a little-known poem by Norman Russell, "The Tornado" , which describes a family home being swallowed up by a roaring black twister: Russell deftly captures the terrifying grandeur of the American sublime. Despite the enduring and perceptibly increasing influence of Christian fundamentalism here, the political will is constantly being tested and refined against the pagan chaos of brute nature.

American history is crammed with tales of fortitude in the face of hostile geography and punishing weather, from the struggle of the Mayflower Puritans to survive their first New England winter to the desperate march of pioneers in the 1849 California gold rush through the baking desert of Death Valley. Books and TV features regularly document our list of worst disasters - such as the great blizzard of 1888 that sank 200 boats under five feet of snow or the hurricane-caused 1900 flood in Galveston, Texas that killed 6,000 people.

There is a can-do spirit here that believes it can overcome all odds. It can be detected, for example, in the fixed optimism of the Bush administration that Western-style constitutional democracy can be planted virtually overnight in the Mideast. What is highly surprising now is the disintegration of the administration's mask of competence and confidence, as New Orleans sinks day by day into squalor and savagery, a shocking panorama of unrelieved human suffering

Quote of the Day

"The heart of Conservatism is Libertarianism." - Ronald Reagan

Friday, September 02, 2005


I never cease to be amazed by the absurdity and crassness of the things that come out of George W. Bush's mouth. While "touring" (read: getting his picture taken with black people), the President said...get ready for it...this is not a joke...make sure you are sitting down, "I am satisfied with the response of the federal government, but not with the results." Words fail me.

The only thing more amazing then the crap that spews from this hack's mouth is that half of the country eat it up with a spoon just because he has a "R" after his name. Have we really become so uninformed that we can forgive these egregious lies and ridiculous spin that our eyes and our common sense tell us cannot possibly jive with reality.

We (largely) gave him a pass when it was innocent Iraqis dying because of his lies and ambition, will we be so quick to forgive his incompetence and criminal detachment now that it is Americans that have died and continue to die? I hope not.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Update

I just watched a FEMA press conference where the director attempted to deflect their own criminal incompetence by BLAMING THE VICTIMS. To paraphrase, "Everytime someone complains about the conditions, there is a TV camera right there, but what you don't see are the grand mothers quietly and patiently waiting in the background."

Do not let them spin this!

Last year, FEMA ran a drill in which they assumed this very senario. However, the drill was predicated on the President signing an order in advance of hurricane landfall that would allow them to pre-stage resources in the nearby states. That order never came.

When the Terry Shiavo case was news, congress cut short their vacations to return to Washington to pass a late Sunday night resolution. It has now been four days since the hurricane and Congress is just now bothering to return to Washington.

As of Thursday:
National Guard troops in Iraq - c. 67,000
National Guard troops in Louisiana - c. 2800