Sunday, November 9, 2008

Closing Things Out

We've had a good run: nine months, dozens of inbound links, over 100 posts, over 10,000 unique visitors and a mention in The Economist. But it's almost time for me to pack up this blog and move on. I'll leave it up for another week or so, in case anyone has any parting comments/questions/attacks. Consider this an open thread.

Once again, congratulations President-Elect Barack Obama. I look forward to both supporting and opposing you over the next four years.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Congratulations Barack! I Now Enter the Loyal Opposition

You might think that I'm thrilled that the candidate I've supported so strongly - with my money, my volunteer efforts and many hours of blogging - has now won. I am, of course, but I'm not reveling in my excitement. Not for a minute. I supported Obama because he was the best candidate in the race (the best in the last several races, really). But Obama isn't perfect, and I never thought that he was.

I encourage my fellow libertarians, no matter who they supported, to join me in the following:

Support the libertarian parts of Obama's agenda.
Ending the war, closing Guantanamo Bay and rolling back George Bush's curbs on civil liberties won't be easy. The same Republicans who called Obama a coward or a terrorist during the campaign will redouble their efforts when he starts to wind down the warfare state. He'll need all of the libertarian allies that he can get.

Stand up to him when he backslides.
Obama has made some bold pledges, including his promises to seek out and eliminate wasteful government spending and put caps on farm subsidies. Libertarians who supported him shouldn't let him get away with shying away from these promises.

Push him in a libertarian direction.
On several issues, Obama takes a liberal position that I don't think he passionately believes in. Consider gun control. Obama is in favor of some gun control, but it's never been a central part of his political philosophy. Now that he's done with a campaign in which he's seen the passion of the pro-gun community, maybe he can be convinced to move in our direction. Call me a starry-eyed optimist, but I believe that he's changeable on guns, military aid to Columbia, school vouchers and other issues. Let's help the change candidate do a little position changing.

Fight him on the issues where we disagree.
Obama believes in card check. I don't. I'm going to join with the Republicans on this one and fight him as hard as I can. Same for the Fairness Doctrine (though I doubt Obama will even try to bring that up).

Spread the word to other libertarians.
Obama is not our enemy. He's a smart man who believes in classical liberal values like tolerance, separation of church and state and the rights of the accused. He understands and appreciates the Constitution. Don't throw away a chance at a productive relationship by believing this crap about him being a communist or a dictator in waiting.

Bring libertarians in from the cold.
Bob Barr's candidacy was a complete failure. Same thing for down-ticket libertarians. I still like third parties, and I'm sure I will continue to vote for some third party candidates from time to time. But if anyone wants to make serious political change instead of just registering their dislike for the system they will engage more with a major political party. And I've got news for you, libertarians: The Republican Party is not your natural home. Look at the hatred that Republicans showered on Ron Paul. Watch the post-election fight for the soul of the Republican Party. If the libertarian faction takes over I'll eat my hat. No, the Republicans are descending into a Bible-thumping, war-mongering, xenophobic, populist party of the South. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is now swollen with young, libertarian-minded suburban professionals who've been driven from the Republican Party by Bush, Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin. In other words, the Democratic Party is now ripe for change in a libertarian direction.

So the next stop in my political journey is the Democratic Freedom Caucus, where I hope to work with like-minded libertarian Democrats to advance my ideals. Consider joining me.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cheney Emerges from his Undisclosed Location to Endorse McCain

Obama already has an ad mocking the endorsement that you can see here.

And here's Obama's statement:

"I'd like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement because he really earned it. That endorsement didn't come easy. Senator McCain had to vote 90 per cent of the time with George Bush and Dick Cheney to get it. He served as Washington's biggest cheerleader for going to war in Iraq, and supports economic policies that are no different from the last eight years. So Senator McCain worked hard to get Dick Cheney's support."

Election Eve Eve Fun

Palin as president.

Reason Goes for Obama

Every presidential election year Reason magazine takes the pulse of the libertarian world - academics, celebrities, Reason editors. Here are this year's results:
Twelve votes for Obama (and two more deciding between Obama and someone else)
Ten for Bob Barr (and four considering Barr)
Ten for none of the above or didn't answer (and three considering that option)
Four for McCain (one possible McCain)
One Ralph Nader

The Obama voters are Ronald Bailey, Bruce Bartlett, David Brin, Tim Cavanaugh, Steve Chapman, Craig Newmark, Steven Pinker, Ryan Sager, John Scalzi, RU Sirius, Doug Stanhope, David Weigel and possibly Peter Bagge and Julian Sanchez.

Here are some of the best answers to Reason's questions:

Who are you voting for in November? Barack Obama, because he most exemplifies Reason and Free Minds (sorry, the country is in no mood for Freer Markets). The contrast between his discernment and eclecticism and the Republican ticket’s impulsiveness and idiot populism is vastly more important than any differences in their adherence to libertarian first principles.
- Steven Pinker, Harvard professor and author

Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? I could tell that the neocons were mad in 2000 and that their allies were fanatics or thieves. It was blatant in 2004. Those who act shocked (shocked!) and betrayed today were fools then and are likely fools now.
- David Brin, science fiction author

Who did you vote for in 2004 and 2000? Gore in 2000; Kerry in 2004. In 2000 I suspected Bush might have the intellectual depth of a custard; in 2004, sadly, I knew it all too well.
-John Scalzi, science fiction author

What will you miss about the Bush administration? Nothing. Worst president ever. The damage his administration has done to this country is mind-boggling.
- Peter Bagge, Reason contributing editor

What will you miss about the Bush administration? Their perfect purity of purpose. I have looked for a single example of their acting in the best interests of the American people, the republic, or even decent conservatism. There are no examples, whatsoever. Such perfection belies the "Standard Model" that they were merely venal morons. Such uniformity of accomplishment smacks of deliberate intelligence.
- Brin

What will you miss about the Bush administration? The idea that $438 billion is a big budget deficit.
- Jacob Sullum, Reason editor

Is this the most important election in your lifetime? I'm not convinced that many elections in the United States are that important, but the tragicomedy of American life is that we have a generally representative government, which is a damning comment on us.
-Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason Online

Is this the most important election in your lifetime? This election probably is the most important. Obama appears to be against wars of aggression, while McCain is clearly a war-monger. More generally, Obama is clearly deliberative and thoughtful and—while he won't often reach the same conclusions as I or other libertarians would reach—he's preferable to McCain, who relies on "gut feelings" and is as intellectually non-curious as George W. Bush.
- Rob Campia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project

Leaving George W. Bush out of consideration, what former U.S. president would you most like to have waterboarded? None of them. The sooner we stop coming up with lists of people to waterboard, the better.
- Drew Carey, host of The Price is Right

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sarah Palin's Bad Halloween Joke

It was a joke, right? This governor of an American state - and candidate for federal office - didn't just seriously say that the press is threatening her First Amendment rights by criticizing her? She's talking about the same First Amendment that promises that "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ..." Is this what a McCain/Palin administration would be like? I don't like all of Barack Obama's positions, but at least he knows what the Constitution says (he was a professor of Constitutional law, after all).

Monday, October 27, 2008

We've Made the Economist

My favorite weekly magazine usually comes on Saturdays, but this week it was late. So it wasn't until today that I opened up The Economist and read "The Rise of the Obamacons":

"The biggest brigade in the Obamacon army consists of libertarians, furious with Mr. Bush's big-government conservatism, worried about his commitment to an open-ended 'war on terrorism,' and disgusted by his cavalier way with civil rights. There are two competing 'libertarians for Obama' web sites. Cafe Press is even offering a 'libertarian for Obama' lawn sign for $19.95. Larry Hunter, who helped to devise Newt Gingrich's Contract with America in 1994, thinks that Mr. Obama can free America from the grip of the 'zombies' who now run the Republican Party." [My bold, of course]

Here's the other Libertarians for Obama site (my friendly rival, I suppose). He got the better web address ( but he hasn't updated his site since June, so I'll take the liberty of considering this site the leading libertarians for Obama destination on the web.

Thanks, The Economist.

Update: The Economist - probably the world's most widely read magazine with libertarian sympathies - has endorsed Obama. From the endorsement: "The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence ... Voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead." Past Economist endorsements: Dole in 1996, Bush in 2000 and this from 2004: "With a heavy heart, we think American readers should vote for John Kerry on November 2nd." (Thanks for the tip, Hrafn)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Next War

U.S. special forces attacked a village in Syria yesterday, killing eight people.

Here's John McCain's view of Syria. If you don't feel like reading, here's a summary: Syria and Iran are responsible for all of the bad things happening in Iraq right now, and "the answer is for the international community to apply real pressure to Syria and Iran to change their behavior."

Cross-Party Endorsements

Republicans for Obama is a grass-roots effort, but it's a good looking site. It has video, blogs, Republicans for Obama T-shirts and an inspiring quote ("Senator Obama is the one candidate who can unite the American majority that wants to move forward and improve the long-term economic well-being and independence of our nation."). It also has a good list of prominent Republicans who have endorsed Obama. The list includes four former governors, three former congressmen, one sitting congressman, Colin Powell, Francis Fukuyama, Scott McClellan, Christopher Buckley and Ken Adelman.

Contrast this with Wikipedia's list of Democrats who have endorsed John McCain. Other than Joe Lieberman (who doesn't really count, since he is no longer a Democrat), there isn't a single name on the list that I had ever heard before. Wikipedia's editors could only find 14 Democrats for the list, including four state legislators, the former mayor of Concord, N.H. (population 40,000) and the president of a local chapter of the National Organization for Women, one of several bitter Hillary Clinton supporters on the list.

Why are these lists significant? Because McCain's last, desperate campaign strategy is to paint Obama as so far to the left that he'll drag the country toward socialism. But Obama has always been a politician of the center, who has worked with Republicans and respected their opinions. McCain is the one who wants to wrench America towards the fringe. And Obama has the endorsements to prove it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Who is a Libertarian, Redux

In the comments section of a recent post, a poster named Brian suggested that I was not a real libertarian, ipso facto, because I support Barack Obama. Brian's definition of a libertarian seemed pretty good to me: "A libertarian is a person who upholds the principles of individual liberty, smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom." Here's why a vote for Obama squares with that:

Upholds the principals of individual liberty: Advantage, Obama. Here are some of the principals of individual liberty which Obama supports and John McCain does not: a ban on torture, gay rights, separation of church and state, privacy and free speech. Obama isn't perfect in this category (he's against gay marriage and has given qualified support to warrantless wiretapping), but I have faith that his heart is in the right place overall.

Wants smaller government: Advantage, Obama. McCain talks a good game on this front. And I certainly appreciate his work against earmarks and other wasteful spending. But, as Bleeding Heartland points out, the cost of earmarks in 2007 was about $17 billion. The cost of the Iraq war, which McCain wants to both continue and expand, is about $165 billion. And earmarks don't breed new government programs that destroy our civil liberties.

Supports lower taxes: Advantage, McCain. Obama wants to lower taxes for everyone making less than $200,000 and raise taxes for those making over $250,000. McCain wants to lower taxes for the rich, and lower them less than Obama for the middle class. A hybrid plan would be nice, but if these are the only two choices, McCain's is better from a libertarian perspective (even though it's worse for me personally). But beware: One of McCain's top advisers recently said that, if elected, McCain plans to raise taxes too.

Wants more personal freedom: Advantage, Obama. Only one major candidate is pro-choice, against a ban on flag burning and wants to soften drug laws and reduce the use of mandatory minimum sentences.