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.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
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.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
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
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."
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.
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
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
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 (www.libertariansforobama.com) 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
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."
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
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.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
More silliness from George Bush's war on terrorism this past week: Bush has removed North Korea from the State Department's State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Being on the list activates a number of sanctions, including prohibitions against U.S. citizens doing business with the target country.
Now, North Korea is clearly an unpredictable, insane, evil place that's armed to the teeth. But state sponsor of terrorism? What terrorism was North Korea sponsoring? And what did it do to get off the list?
As the Council on Foreign Relations notes: "North Korea has not been associated with any acts of terrorism since 1987, when it was linked to the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight."
Oh, so it just took a while for them to prove that they're no longer sponsoring terrorism, right? Wrong. North Korea was removed from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list because it stopped reprocessing nuclear fuel. But what does that have to do with sponsoring terrorism? Nothing.
It turns out that the State Sponsors of Terrorism list has nothing to do with terrorism.
Now that North Korea is off the list, it contains only four countries: Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.
Cuba??? Again, awful government. But terrorism sponsor?
Even though Cuba hasn't actually sponsored any terrorist acts since the fall of the USSR in 1992, the State Department justifies its inclusion because "Cuba continued to publicly oppose the U.S.-led Coalition prosecuting the War on Terror. To U.S. knowledge, Cuba did not attempt to track, block, or seize terrorist assets."
So a country gets on the list because it isn't sufficiently enthusiastic about Bush's war on terrorism? Even if it hasn't sponsored any terrorism itself? What terrorist assets does the U.S. seriously expect Cuba to track, block or seize, anyway? The Al Qaida training camps in Havana?
So if Cuba is one of the world's four biggest state sponsors of terrorism, who didn't make the list? Afghanistan, for one. That's right - the country that sheltered Osama bin Laden for years has never been considered a state sponsor of terrorism, not even during Al Qaida's heyday in the 1990s.
Also not on the list: Venezuela and Colombia, which sponsor left-wing and right-wing (respectively) paramilitaries fighting in Colombia's civil war. And Russia, which supports paramilitary thugs in Chechnya, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Of course Saudi Arabia and Pakistan never made the list, even though each of them have supported Al Qaida far more than all of the four countries on the list combined.
But Cuba made the list because it isn't sufficiently supportive of the effort to catch bin Laden. And North Korea gets removed not because it stopped sponsoring terrorism 21 years ago, but because of a nuclear deal that has nothing to do with terrorism.
Iraq used to be on the list too because, under Saddam Hussein, it sheltered the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, a group fighting to overthrow the government of Iran (something the U.S. has also tried to do). The State Department removed Iraq from the list in 2003, after the U.S. invasion. The only problem? The Mujahedin-e-Khalq is still in Iraq, still fighting to overthrow the government of Iran. Wikipedia has a good history of the organization. Iraq was also temporarily removed from the list between 1982 and 1990 so that the U.S. could sell it weapons to use in its war against Iran. (Remember this?)
I'm not enough of a libertarian purist to say that the government shouldn't impose sanctions against countries that have sponsored terrorism against us. But if there's going to be a State Sponsors of Terrorism list, shouldn't it, you know, be composed only of countries that have sponsored terrorism recently? Let's hope that this is just more of the same war on terrorism foolishness that Barack Obama will put an end to in a few months.
"The only flag at my office is an Israeli flag," Sarah Palin told Israeli President Shimon Perez, according to the (now-defunct) New York Sun. "I want you to know and I want Israelis to know that I am a friend."
Remember all the fuss about Barack Obama not wearing a flag pin? Seems a bit silly compared to the governor of an American state having a foreign flag in her office instead of an American flag. Even if Palin misspoke and she meant that the Israeli flag is the only foreign flag in her office, what is she doing with foreign flags in her office? And if she's going to start putting up foreign flags, is she seriously saying that Israel (a country she has never visited) is more important to Alaska than Canada, where she wants to build a giant natural gas pipeline? Or Russia, a country from which Palin claimed to receive trade missions, but apparently never did?
Maybe her support for Israel has something to do with her church's view that terrorist attacks against Israel are a good thing, because they are the beginning of the final battle between good and evil that will result in the slaughter of the Jews and the return of Jesus.
(Via Andrew Sullivan)
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Every year, Liberty magazine prints several endorsements, one for each candidate that libertarians might be interested in voting for. This year there are endorsements for John McCain ("I don’t like him. Actually, I detest him," but he'll lower taxes, argues Stephen Cox), Bob Barr and None of the Above (No endorsement for Chuck Baldwin. Go figure.).
Bruce Ramsey wrote the Barack Obama endorsement. Here's an excerpt:
"McCain was for starting a war with Iraq. Obama was against it. When the occupation went bad, Obama talked about taking soldiers out. McCain talked about bringing them in. McCain, having been a prisoner, was sensitive to the issue of torture, and that is to his credit. But a vote for McCain is a validation of Bush on war and the other things, financial, legal, and cultural, that come with war. And on this issue, McCain is worse than Bush. Military service has defined McCain’s heritage and his life. His moral touchstone is honor. He’s got war written all over him.
"That is why some libertarians will cast their vote this year for the nominee of a party that libertarians do not usually support."Read the whole thing at Liberty Unbound. What was interesting to me about the endorsement was all of the references that Ramsey made to other libertarians who have written in favor of Obama. I knew about Camile Paglia, Scott Flanders and David Friedman.
But Ramsey also points out that libertarian blogger Megan McArdle has said she'll "probably vote for Obama." And he goes the extra step of calling up Brink Lindsey and Gene Healy, who both tepidly support Obama (at least to the extent that he is better than McCain and the other options).
Lindsey: "My sense of fundamental democratic accountability says that when the party in power messes up royally, it should be thrown out on its ear. For Republicans to be rewarded with another term in the White House after eight years of Bush seems really wrong to me."
I'm adding McArdle and Healy to my blogroll. Unfortunately, Lindsey's blog hasn't been updated for almost a year, when he had this interesting post about why he doesn't support Ron Paul.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Wayne Allyn Root continues to embarrass himself by fluffing Sarah Palin - supposedly his opponent - most recently in a Pacifica Radio interview. I listened to the 8 minute interview so you don't have to. The highlights:
Root describes Palin as "a female actress portraying me."
He brags about never having held any elective office, and how this qualifies him to be vice president.
He blames the economic crisis on "community activist groups." Please, Wayne, name names.
He claims that Barack Obama has been in government his whole life. I guess he's forgetting about his community organizing years. And his time as a constitutional lawyer. And the constitutional law professor days.
But that experience doesn't count, I guess, because according to Root "The enemy of this country is lawyers."
If that's not enough Root silliness for you, on his blog Root claims that Palin won the vice presidential debate, despite overwhelming voter sentiment to the contrary. Why does Root think that his favorite vice presidential candidate cleaned up?
"Palin lacks the U.S. Senate pedigree, law degree, or the D.C. Beltway credentials of Biden, but she has Reaganesque-like (sic) charm, charisma and middle American values. She also has something that even a brash New Yorker like me appreciates- CHUTZPAH. Sarah, in an “aw shucks” kind of way, is more confident of a speaker and debater than any 5-term United States Senator. Like Reagan, she knows how to connect to her audience- soccer moms and NASCAR dads (or as she calls them “Joe Six Pack”)."
I'll just let that speak for itself.
But since we're on the subject of Palin's popularity, check out this video of hockey fans in Pennsylvania booing her mercilessly.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Check out the new page art: the new "libertarians for Obama" yard sign that the campaign created. For a mere $41.99 (ugh) you can order one here and have it up in your yard by election day (via Carrie Tomko). Even with the high price, I have a feeling that these are selling a lot better than the official "African Americans for McCain" T-shirts.
Democratic Stuff sells all sorts of Obama T-shirts and buttons, including "Bee Keepers for Obama," "Beer Brewers for Obama" and "Moustaches for Obama." Much better than these racist anti-Obama buttons from the Republican Party of Texas.
Here's an email I wrote to Democratic Stuff a few weeks ago. I'm still waiting for a response.
To Whom It May Concern:
I have been a Barack Obama supporter for over a year now, but only today did I discover your site. I'm already a big fan, and I am considering purchasing either a Vegetarians for Obama or Oil Tycoons for Obama button (or possibly Hipsters for Obama, but I'm not sure if I qualify). What I really want, though, is a Libertarians for Obama button, which I did not see on your site. You may not be aware that, according to polling firm Rasmussen, four percent of Americans are libertarians (believers in limited government and personal freedom) and this group supports Barack Obama over John McCain, 53% to 38% (source: http://libertarianobama.
Libertarian for Obama
P.S. If you start selling Libertarians for Obama buttons, I would be happy to include a link from my Libertarians for Obama blog (libertarianobama.blogspot.com).
Sunday, October 5, 2008
I get a lot of great comments on this blog, and usually I try to answer them in the comments sectoin. But since I've been out of town recently, I thought I'd post a few of the good ones here.
- "Laughing Libertarian" points out that conservative writer Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley and author of Thank You for Smoking, says he is likely to vote for Barack Obama. Buckley said that his main reason for supporting Obama was John McCain's similarity to George W. Bush.
- Pam Pescosolido, past chair of the Tulare County (Calif.) Libertarian Party posted a letter she has written explaining her endorsement of Obama. While Libertarian Republican blogger Eric Dondero claims that libertarians will rally to McCain because of his "libertarian" vice presidential pick, Pescosolido disagrees. "Palin believes that the Bible is the literal word of God; that creationism is “the truth” and evolution just some cockamamie scam; and she would be willing to try to force that belief onto everyone else through whatever means," Pescosolido writes. Full letter here.
- An anonymous commenter claims that "Obama would be the most anti-gun President of all time." I've heard this line before, but I'm not sure where the idea comes from. Obama isn't as solid on guns as I'd like him to be, but he's one of the few nationally prominent Democrats to assert that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. He's said that he doesn't want to license or register handguns - and he certainly doesn't want to take them away. Obama does support gun ownership restrictions such as requiring manufacturers to include child safety locks with guns, but this is pretty mainstream stuff. For more on Obama's positions on guns, check out this independent watchdog site.
This past week I've been on vacation in North Carolina. A week ago, I didn't really believe all of the poll numbers showing that Obama has pulled even in the Tar Heel State. But judging by the number of Obama yard signs and bumper stickers that I saw down there, I'm no longer quite so sure that North Carolina is out of reach.
P.S. - Keep the correspondence coming. If you don't want to leave a comment, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
In alphabetical order:
Bolivia - McCain won't talk to Bolivia's president, calls him "very similar" to Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro, leaders McCain has repeatedly vilified.
Cuba - Unlike in 2000, the John McCain of 2008 wants to strengthen the embargo on Cuba. Barack Obama wants to ease it.
Iran - "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran"
Lebanon - McCain says he will "drive Hezbollah out of Lebanon." Hezbollah is part of the democratically-elected government of Lebanon.
Myanmar - McCain wants more sanctions.
North Korea - McCain thinks George W. Bush is too soft on North Korea.
Palestine - McCain co-sponsored a bill to take a harder line on the Palestinians.
Russia - Russia deserves "harsh treatment," McCain says.
Spain - McCain would not meet with the president of Spain, a member of the NATO alliance, because he opposed the Iraq war.
Sudan - McCain wants to invade.
Syria - McCain blames Syria for the violence in Iraq, wants to depose its leader and urges Israel not to make peace with Syria.
Uzbekistan - McCain wants sanctions.
Venezuela - McCain wants to isolate Venezuela, and calls Venezuelans "wackos."
Zimbabwe - McCain wants sanctions.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
SIR – Alaska is very different from the rest of the United States, and this difference affects the fitness of Mrs Palin to be vice-president. Fundamentally, Alaska is a pre-modern welfare state, where the economy is almost purely extractive (with the exception of defense and tourism). If you don’t kill it, dig it or cut it down you don’t get it. From that perspective “bridges to nowhere” are simply further extractions, or tokens for transfer payments from the rest of us, as are the annual payments to residents from North Slope oil revenues.
Not surprisingly Alaska is largely an innovation-free zone. It is also the only world that Mrs Palin has known. Along with her chronological and career inexperience this background renders her unprepared to lead the country.
Professor of nuclear science and engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Monday, September 22, 2008
Ben Porritt, a spokesman for Sarah Palin, told a group of college students at his alma mater over the weekend that he didn't think that it was a big deal that Barack Obama used the phrase "lipstick on a pig" when comparing the policies of John McCain and George W. Bush. He "felt Obama was just using an expression," according to a story in the Peoria Journal Star. But then he told the rest of the Palin media team about Obama's comment, and they "flipped out," he said, flogging it for days. Somehow I doubt this guy has a bright future in media relations.
"I am not a Democrat who believes that we can or should defend every government program just because it's there," Barack Obama said today at a rally in Green Bay, according to the Associated Press.
These words aren't, by themselves, a big deal. Democrats have been extolling the virtues of small government and the free market for years, just as Republicans like to talk about how much they respect personal freedom. But nice words don't mean much when they're contradicted - as soon as the election is over - by big spending Democrats and Big Brother Republicans.
But Obama didn't just offer words today. He spelled out specific federal expenditures that he plans to cut, including cutting $40 billion in spending on contractors. I don't remember John Kerry or Al Gore ever doing that.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
In 1964, at the age of 16, I organized the Dallas County Youth for Goldwater. My senior thesis at the University of Texas was on the conservative intellectual revival in America. Twenty years later, I was invited by William F. Buckley Jr. to join the board of National Review. I later became its publisher [...]
[T]oday it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly don’t work. The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.
Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world “safe for democracy.” It is John McCain who says America’s job is to “defeat evil,” a theological expansion of the nation’s mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth ...
I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.
Most important, Obama will be a realist. I doubt he will taunt Russia, as McCain has, at the very moment when our national interest requires it as an ally. The crucial distinction in my mind is that, unlike John McCain, I am convinced he will not impulsively take us into another war unless American national interests are directly threatened.
“Every great cause,” Eric Hoffer wrote, “begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” As a cause, conservatism may be dead. But as a stance, as a way of making judgments in a complex and difficult world, I believe it is very much alive in the instincts and predispositions of a liberal named Barack Obama.[Read Allison's whole endorsement to find out why he thinks Obama has conservative "instincts and predispositions."]
That's right, 221 years ago today the Founding Fathers ratified the U.S. Constitution. So I think today's a pretty good day to share my three favorite passages from the Constitution (not counting the Bill of Rights. That wasn't ratified until Dec. 15 - Bill of Rights Day).
"The Congress shall have Power To ... declare War"
The Constitution doesn't have anything to say about vague Congressional use-of-force resolutions that leave all of the war decisions in the hands of the president.
"... no Appropriation of Money to that Use (to raise and support Armies) shall be for a longer Term than two Years"
The implication here is that the Framers didn't intend for the federal government to maintain a permanent standing army. By contrast, there is a specific provision for the creation of a standing navy. Navies and state militias are useful for repelling invasions. Armies are better suited for invading other counties or putting down domestic opposition.
"The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."
Last I checked, the United States hasn't been invaded or had a rebellion lately (9-11 was an attack, not an invasion). So why no habeas corpus rights for Guantanamo prisoners?
"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States"
The president isn't the "commander in chief." The president is the "commander in chief of the army and navy." Big difference. Can we please stop using the title "commander in chief" without the "army and navy" qualifier? The president commands the military, not every aspect of the country. The presidency isn't a democratically elected dictatorship, it's a job with specific responsibilities. And no, those responsibilities aren't whatever the president says they are.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Here are some recent quotes from the comments section:
"IF they are Obamatards, and think they are libertarians, they have no clue what a libertarian really is."
"I'm sorry, but anyone who supports Barack Obama cannot be a true libertarian."
"Any Libertarian voting for Obama is not very Libertarian or hasn't looked closely enough at him."
These commenters raise an interesting question: What does it mean to be a "real" or "true" libertarian? What's a good comprehensive definition of "libertarian?" Can one meet this definition and also support Barack Obama? Are there any specific policy positions that, by themselves, disqualify one from being a libertarian?
Merriam-Webster defines "libertarian" as:
1. An advocate of the doctrine of free will.
2a A person who upholds the principles of individual liberty especially of thought and action
2b A member of a political party advocating libertarian principles.
Definitions 1 and 2a are pretty vague and all inclusive. 2b doesn't really apply to what I'm talking about.
My personal definition would be: A person who opposes war and tyranny and wants less government, an economy based on the principals of the free market, personal freedom and civil liberties. I think that Obama meets this definition (though I don't call him a libertarian). I know that many of my readers disagree.
I've also seen various people call themselves libertarians while supporting either aggressive war, detention without trial, a crackdown on immigrants, the war on drugs or high tariffs.
So who gets to claim the label? Or is it un-libertarian to try to be so exclusive?
Friday, September 12, 2008
Time has the story. If this is true - and I don't doubt it, since no Republican president in recent memory has actually cut spending - what do the libertarians supporting McCain have left? Since Obama clinched the nomination, it's been an endless chorus of "Obama will raise taxes! Obama will raise taxes!! Obama will raise taxes!!!" He probably will (by a modest amount), but if McCain will do the same, just like George H.W. Bush did, what do small government types still see in McCain? Do they actually believe the small government rhetoric? "This time, the Republican will be different. This time, the Republican's small government promises are for real. This time ..."
Update: Alan Greenspan's not a fan of McCain's tax plan. And, as Don the Libertarian Democrat points out, the Tax Policy Center refutes the myth that Obama will raise taxes across the board, and McCain will balance the budget.
"Given that the 'Bush Dog' capitulations are consistently on issues of foreign policy and civil liberties, a Republican Presidency with a working conservative majority in the Congress is an abysmal prospect for libertarians, regardless of ultimate partisan affiliation. Despite Barack Obama's own dismal stance on FISA, I view an Obama Administration as less likely to push for a continued imperial foreign policy and statist War on the Bill of Rights. He may well capitulate to Congress on these issues, but I think he's unlikely to actively push such legislation."
Read the rest of this excellent post - and its follow up - at Freedom Democrats.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Eric Dondero - a blogger and self-described "strong on defense libertarian" - raised an interesting point in the comments section of my "Welfare State of Wasilla" post from earlier this week. How can I claim that Sarah Palin isn't a libertarian, he asked, when the Libertarian Party of Alaska endorsed her in 2006? My simple answer is that I certainly don't take political positions because the Libertarian Party tells me to. But his question did get me wondering: How can the party of small government endorse a woman who's spent most of her career fighting for more federal pork?
I couldn't find an answer online, so I called some of the phone numbers listed on the contacts section of the Alaska LP web site. I reached party Secretary Rob Clift on the phone and asked him if I could ask a few questions for the blog. He was happy to talk.
First of all, Clift wanted to make clear that the Alaska LP did not endorse Palin. They said that they liked her, as did LP gubernatorial candidate Billy Toien, but there was never an official endorsement. Clift also said that the state party won't endorse the McCain/Palin ticket, though he might vote for them.
But why? For one thing, Palin's always been friendly to the party, Clift said, speaking at a few of their meetings and asking for their support. He also said that he sees her as a straight shooter, who doesn't try to hide her disagreement with libertarians on drugs, abortion and other social issues.
But what about the elephant in the room: her love of federal pork? On this point Clift was a bit apologetic, but not really phased.
"There's definitely a lot of federal money coming in here," he said. But the federal government is taking advantage of the state in numerous ways, such as controlling many acres of its land and restricting its shipping. "So you can see why we might like to get some of those earmarks. Get our money back."
Palin is, by Alaska's standards, not a big pork barrel spender, he said. Plenty of Alaska Libertarians support her, he added, and aren't bothered by the pork.
But what would she do about big spending as a federal politician? Clift said he didn't know.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
This has nothing to do with libertarians, but it's still fun: Puerto Rican reggaeton stars Daddy Yankee and Fat Joe are feuding because Daddy has come out for John McCain, while Fat Joe calls him "ignorant" and a "sell out." Fat Joe - who supports Barack Obama - has even offered to debate Daddy Yankee on the issues. No response from Daddy yet, but I'll bring you an update as soon as I have one.
Here's my original "Rappers for Obama" post.
And here's a great reggaeton Obama video:
Alex Tabarrok makes the case at Marginal Revolution.
"With war has come FEAR, magnified many times over by the governing party. Fear is pulling Americans into the arms of the state. If only we were better at resisting. Alas, we Americans say that we love liberty but we are fair-weather lovers. Liberty will flourish only with peace."
Co-blogger Tyler Cowen agrees.
"In my view the current priority is avoiding a war with Iran," he writes in the comments of Tabarrok's post.
Even the New York Times acknowledges the libertarian movement toward Obama with a post on its Opinionator blog.
Monday, September 8, 2008
FiveThirtyEight.com has a graphical representation of "maverick," "reformer" Sarah Palin's home town of Wasilla, which receives 30 times as much federal pork per person as Boise. The rest of Nate Silver's post suggesting a new ad strategy for Obama is also worth reading.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Sarah Palin's been getting plenty of mileage this week out of her joke that being a mayor is "sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities." Michelle Malkin says that community organizers deserve ridicule because Obama was a "rabble rouser" who used "bully tactics," like bringing dozens of angry residents to a city planning meeting to oppose a landfill.
Call me a pinko, but I personally prefer a candidate who spent the youthful idealism phase of his life trying to solve public policy problems by joining a non-profit and organizing voluntary actions, rather than getting into traditional politics. Or being a TV sports reporter in Anchorage.
If you're curious to know what community organizers actually do, Joe Klein explains.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Some libertarian blogs are going gaga over Sarah Palin this week. The reason for their excitement: Palin's supposed hatred for pork. I don't know where this rumor got started, but it's got to stop.
As mayor of Wasilla, Palin paid the lobbying firm Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh nearly $100,000 to get federal earmarks for the town. The firm succeeded, to the tune of $27 million - or about $5,000 for every resident of the town at the time (check out Palin's handwritten comments in the picture to the left). The earmarks included $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, $900,000 for sewer repairs, and $15 million for a rail project linking Wasilla and the ski resort community of Girdwood. As the Anchorage Press notes, "This is a town where about 500 people turn out to vote, where the city pays for the mayor’s car and a tiny government runs a $15 million hockey barn/sports arena." She also supported the $200 million "bridge to nowhere," though she now claims she opposed it (check out this picture).
So the next time you hear Sarah Palin bragging that she both cut taxes and improved services in Wasilla, ask yourself who might have paid for that. Then ask yourself if you believe her when she says that "I have championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress."
Update: "I am not denying that Sarah Palin may have great skills. She may well. I am insisting that neither you, nor I, nor John McCain has any valid reason to believe that she does. This is not an argument about the attributes she lacks. It's an argument about the information we lack. I am pleading with my fellow conservatives: Please demand more and better knowledge before you commit yourselves to a political leader. That's all." - former Bush speech writer David Frum (via PoliticalWire)
Update II: Not only did Palin support the Bridge to Nowhere before she opposed it, but even after she started opposing it, she didn't oppose it quite enough to send the money back to Washington. Alaska kept the $200 million and spent it on other pork barrel projects.
Update III: "John McCain and Sarah Palin criticized Democrat Barack Obama over the amount of money he has requested for his home state of Illinois, even though Alaska under Palin's leadership has asked Washington for 10 times more money per citizen for pet projects." - The Associated Press, via TalkingPointsMemo.
Next week Congressman Ron Paul will hold a joint news conference with presidential candidates Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin at the National Press Club. Now, readers of this blog know my feelings about Barr, but I can certainly understand why Paul might want to help him out. But Baldwin? This guy's a theocrat through and through. His party, the Constitution Party, is an explicitly Christian party that wants the United States to be governed by biblical law. Ron Paul the libertarian wants to support this?
According to its party platform, the Constitution Party:
- Would ban gambling.
- Would ban pornography ("government plays a vital role in establishing and maintaining the highest level of decency in our community standards")
- Proposes a complete moratorium on all immigration, describing immigrants (legal and illegal) as "people with low standards of living."
- Wants to deploy the military within the United States to stop immigration.
- Plans to persecute gays ("We reject the notion that sexual offenders are deserving of legal favor or special protection, and affirm the rights of states and localities to proscribe offensive sexual behavior.")
- Will continue the war on drugs that Paul has fought so hard against.
- Wants to repeal the Voting Rights Act (which allowed the federal government to force states to uphold their constitutional responsibility to allow all of their citizens to vote)
- Supports high taxes on imports to keep out goods made overseas.
- Opposes "efforts to confer statehood upon the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or expand statehood beyond the current fifty states." Now that's just weird. Puerto Rican statehood hasn't been much of an issue in this election, but why wouldn't the Constitution Party want Puerto Ricans to pay federal taxes (so long as the rest of us do)? Even if the motivation is hatred of brown people, Puerto Ricans are already U.S. citizens and can travel or move to any state without a visa.
Update: The Constitution Party of Montana will not put Baldwin's name on the ballot there, instead choosing ... Ron Paul. So what happens if Paul endorses Baldwin? Very odd indeed.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
10:28 - John McCain saying he "fought tobacco companies ... and drug companies"
10:31 - A sob story - with no apparent point or relevance - about a family with a special-needs child.
10:38 - Increased government spending for the unemployed.
10:42 - More government spending on energy projects, including environmentally-friendly energy.
10:44 - "Restoring the health of our planet."
11:01 - John McCain
Sunday, August 31, 2008
David Weigel had an article in Reason.com the other day lamenting the demise of the libertarian Democrat. As his evidence, Weigel points out that Brian Schweitzer, the Democratic governor of Montana, gave a speech at the Democratic convention Tuesday that didn't mention Schweitzer's strong pro-gun positions. But why should he? Everyone knows that Schweitzer is pro-gun. He's also pro choice, anti war, against the Real ID Act and the Patriot Act and he's trying to lower taxes in Montana.
I saw Schweitzer's silence on guns not as a muzzling but an acknowledgment that the Democratic Party is softening its stance on the issue. Take a look at the convention schedule. In addition to Schweitzer, strongly pro-gun Democrats Bob Casey and Bill Richardson also got prime time speaking spots. Kathleen Sebelius, who's pretty good on guns, spoke just a few hours before Schweitzer on Tuesday.
It's too bad that Barack Obama didn't pick any of these pro-gun Democrats as his running mate. I think any of them could have helped him immensely in the Mountain West. But I think the Democratic Party is beginning to turn the corner on guns. Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry all made stricter gun control a prominent part of their campaigns. Not so for Obama. He rarely speaks about guns, and when he does, it's usually to reassure gun owners that he doesn't support gun bans.
Of course, die hard gun banners do still find a place in the Democratic Party. But Democrats are also finding room for people like Travis Childers, the pro-gun Democratic Congressman form Mississippi. Even Obama, who supports local restrictions on guns, spoke out earlier this year about how the Second Amendment is an individual right. This is a huge change for a Democrat. Libertarians like Weigel might be disappointed that Obama and the Democrats aren't as pro-gun as they are, but they should acknowledge how far the American left has moved on this issue in such a short time.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Today I ran across this post that a blogger named lesowijs made back in February. Since it sums up many of my thoughts on Barack Obama and this election so much more eloquently than I could, I hope lesowijs doesn't mind that I'm going to repost it in its entirety.
"The hostility I see from the more right-leaning libertarians towards Obama is bewildering. I can understand that you disagree with virtually all of his positions - so do I - but there are two things to consider here:
"1. Republicans lie. They don’t care about small government. It’s time to face the facts and realize that Reagan was both an anomaly and not as libertarian as the paleo-libs who eulogize him today claim. Despite the rhetoric, we’ve been let down by every single Republican presidential nominee since Goldwater. John McCain stands for the continuation of virtually every un-libertarian policy Bush has pushed forward in the last eight years. The fact that anyone who claims to be a libertarian could even consider voting for him is astonishing.
"2. Libertarians need to examine this country and determine what the biggest threats to liberty in America are right now. The biggest threat to liberty is clearly the War on Terrorism. The second biggest threat is the War on Drugs. McCain and the Republicans stand for an even further increase in efforts toward both.
"Obama isn’t perfect, but he’ll do better on those two massive issues than any Republican besides Ron Paul would. Libertarians need to stop pretending that if we lower taxes enough everything else will turn out okay. It’s becoming increasingly clear that economic freedom will not lead to social freedom, in the country and in the Republican party - the most economically free states are frequently the most socially oppressive. On the other hand, it seems much more likely to me that modern liberals could be swayed towards the free market, once the realities of economics become apparent to them.
"Thus I suggest that the Democratic Party is a more natural ally for libertarians right now than the Republican Party, barring some sort of massive sea change within its ranks. Let the paleo-libertarians do what they want; they are more concerned with fantasizing about some ideal conservative libertarian society than actually promoting freedom the best they can. It seems clear to me that an America under Barack Obama or perhaps even Hillary Clinton will be far more free than an America under John McCain."
Monday, August 25, 2008
The web site Jewish Exponent has an article about Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate - and never-ending embarrassment to the party - Wayne Allyn Root. This is amusing because the site talks about Root's Jewish roots and Jewish upbringing, but never mentions that Root has since converted to evangelical Christianity, and now calls himself a "completed Jew" (I'm sure Jewish people love the implication that their faith is incomplete). But the Jewish Exponent article is still worth reading, since it sheds some light on Root's foreign policy beliefs.
On Iraq, Root says he supported the troop surge. On other occasions, he has said that he doesn't want the Iraq war to end.
On Afghanistan, he wants to "do the same thing," with a troop surge there, too.
On Israel, Root calls himself "as pro-Israel as any human being in the world can possibly be," and says that the U.S. should strengthen its alliance with Israel. "You don't abandon your friends."
On Mexico, Root wants to deploy the U.S. military to the border so that it can shoot at people who want to come and work in menial jobs in this country.
Bonus Root foreign policy position: On France, Root told an interviewer two months ago that "I usually hate France." Why, because the French didn't support this disastrous war?
Tell me again, why did this guy leave the Republican Party?
Before he became Barack Obama's running mate, Joe Biden stuck out in my mind for only two things:
- His great quote about every sentence Rudy Giuliani spoke consisting of "a noun, a verb and 9-11."
- His monumentally stupid plan to partition Iraq into three autonomous regions.
Now, I'm sure that the Obama-Biden ticket's foreign policy will be Barack Obama's foreign policy: Diplomacy, peace and trade. But what if something happens to Obama (like the assassination plot uncovered today)? Would a president Biden still try to "solve" the mess we've created in Iraq by - against the wishes of most Iraqis - carving up the country? I think a lot of war opponents will be able to forgive Biden for his vote for the war, since he has come to renounce it. But when will he renounce his three Iraqs plan, and get on board with Obama's promise to end the war in 16 months?
Thursday, August 21, 2008
At the end of this woman's very long question/comment, she tells John McCain that the U.S. should reinstate the draft. His response: "Ma'am, let me say that I don't disagree with anything you said."
Now, if McCain just mis-heard or mis-spoke or wasn't paying attention, fine. I'll give him a pass. But if he doesn't really want to impose a draft, then he'd better set the record straight right quick. Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic says that in context, McCain wasn't advocating a draft at all, but agreeing with other parts of the woman's question. He's probably right, but I can't find any sort of McCain retraction or clarification online. And with McCain's bellicose words toward Russia this week - saying the country deserves "harsh treatment" - I'm not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. If McCain is serious about getting into a military confrontation with Russia, then a draft probably wouldn't be out of the question.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Forget about the haters - the libertarians who call Barack Obama a Marxist, or start websites telling Ron Paul supporters that they'd better line up behind John McCain. Plenty of libertarians, it turns out, support Obama. More evidence from today: an Associated Press story about how supporters of Paul and Mick Huckabee plan on voting in November.
Some stats from the story:
- In June, 18 percent of people who had visited Paul's web site before John McCain clinched the nomination read at least one major conservative blog while 22 percent read at least one major liberal blog. Could it be because liberal bloggers tend to agree with Paul on the issue most important to him, reining in the American empire?
- Six percent of these people went to McCain's web site and 8 percent to Obama's. Could it be because Obama agrees with Paul on both the war and Paul's second favorite issue, sound money?
- These small numbers aren't just noise. The same data show Huckabee's supporters going strongly for McCain.
Ron Paul has asked his supporters not to vote for him. I would bet that at least a few of them will be pulling the lever for Obama in November.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Check out this voter guide from anti-immigration - and anti-immigrant - group Numbers USA. It's really an excellent resource for those of us who want to know exactly what Numbers USA thinks ... so we can vote the exact opposite way. While I had thought that Bob Barr was terrible on immigration issues, Numbers USA demonstrates just how much worse Chuck Baldwin is. This is a man who wants to surround the country with a giant wall, turn local law enforcement officers into federal agents for raids and mass round-ups and force employers to become federal immigration agents as well - or face prosecution. Just take a look at how federal immigration enforcement has ruined the town of Postville, Iowa. Why do some candidates spend so much time talking about reducing the power of the federal government, and then work so hard to make draconian immigration laws?
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I haven't figured out yet whether BlackMenForMcCain.com is a parody site or not. Here are the opening lines of the first post:
"Brothers, we are on the verge of a great American tragedy. Empty suit Barack Obama has brainwashed the good liberals in this country! He MUST BE STOPPED!"
Sounds like pretty standard anti-Barack Obama talk. But then the blogger goes on to make four posts in a row - the only other posts on the blog, thus far - discussing the merits of John McCain's campaign's "African Americans for McCain" T-shirts.
"If this doesn’t illustrate what makes America great, I don’t know what does. In response to my request, the McCain campaign is now offering an “African-Americans For McCain” t-shirt. This is within four hours of my post."
Several comments point out that McCain had been selling these T-shirts all along, the blogger apparently just couldn't find them. As with many blogs, the best material can be found in the comments threads. Let's just say that the site hasn't yet become a forum for black men to discuss their mutual love of McCain.
I link to this site mostly because it is hilarious, but also partly to show that a blog called "Libertarians for Obama" is certainly not the strangest thing the 2008 campaign has produced.
Monday, August 11, 2008
From a Wall Street Journal editorial today:
"The underreported economic news of the week is that Barack Obama favors a stronger dollar. Even better, he thinks a stronger greenback would help to reduce oil prices.
"That at least is what the Democratic Presidential candidate told a town hall forum in Parma, Ohio, on Tuesday. 'If we had a strengthening of the dollar, that would help' reduce fuel costs, he said, according to a Reuters dispatch ignored by most of the media. ... We don't know who is whispering in Mr. Obama's ear about the dollar, but he's on to a rich political vein."
Via the Huffington Post.
Who's whispering in Obama's ear? Austin Goolsby, his libertarian economic adviser, of course.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I'm not going to be posting much for the next few weeks because I'm in the process of moving from D.C. to northern Virginia. My move, of course, has nothing to do with the election. But it is a nice bonus that I'll be able to vote in a swing state, instead of a place where Obama will no doubt win by a landslide.
Some libertarians like to criticize Barack Obama's health care plan because of its cost. Now, I certainly would prefer a more market-based approach. But Obama's plan isn't quite the government bogyman that it might at first appear to be. For one thing, it's not mandatory, so anyone can opt out. Obama's plan also relies on private insurance companies, not the government, to provide coverage. But what about the cost? Obama says his plan will cost between $50 billion and $65 billion. Respected M.I.T. health care economist Jonathan Gruber is more pessimistic, estimating a cost of $102 billion per year. That's not chump change, but it's also less than two-thirds of the cost of George Bush's War on Terror.
That $102 billion is also far less of your tax money than John McCain plans on spending. The Iraq war so far has cost over $100 billion a year. And that's only the direct costs. Economist Joseph Stiglitz estimated in 2006 that for every $1 of direct costs, the United States is incurring roughly an additional $6 in indirect costs, including long-term medical benefits and pensions for soldiers, and the costs of rebuilding the military to pre-war strength. That's a total bill of over $2 trillion over the first three years, or about $700 billion per year. A congressional report released in November put the cost of the war at a more modest $1.6 trillion through 2009, or about $270 billion per year. Using either of these measures, McCain's plan to keep fighting this disastrous war beats Obama's health plan on the big government front. Obama might even be able to use some of the savings from ending the war to pay for the tax cuts he has promised.
But Obama's health plan is a permanent entitlement, you might argue, while the war is temporary. Well let's just assume for the sake of argument that combat miraculously ends next year and McCain's 100-year peaceful occupation begins (despite all the evidence that the fighting isn't nearly over). The cost of the war would go down then, right? The United States has about 132,000 troops in Iraq right now. Let's assume President McCain is able to reduce that to a South Korea-like 40,000. So even if we take the more modest congressional estimate, the occupation would be only slightly cheaper than Obama's universal health care. And that's assuming that McCain doesn't start any other wars.
So the next time you hear people accusing Obama of being a big spender, consider the alternative.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Barack Obama doubles down on ending the Iraq war. John McCain wants to stay the course. Yet there are still libertarians, like Jacob Hornberger, claiming that there's no difference between these men on foreign policy. I just don't get it.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
That's right, he's literally handing out cash on the street to anyone who says he needs it. This is money from the Iraqi treasury, but the Iraqi treasury is in large part funded by the American treasury. I'm not saying that America doesn't have some obligation to spend money to fix some of the damage we've done in Iraq. But handing out cash on the street? Is this really what it's come to? Not rebuilding, not issuing grants, just walking around with a wad of cash passing it out.
The Associated Press story about the handouts (linked above) noted that: "Top U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus has repeatedly called money a crucial weapon to lure neighborhoods from extremists and stabilize Iraq. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, urged the government to pass out money even faster this week on a trip to devastated Mosul in the north."
Chalk this up as just one more cost of a war we never should have started.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Last month, Arthur Torrey, a Libertarian Party elector from Massachusetts, announced that he would not vote for LP presidential candidate Bob Barr, and would not cast his electoral vote for Barr if he won Massachusetts. This week, Torrey got some company. In this long blog post at Last Free Voice, Wes Benedict, a Libertarian elector from Michigan, also announced that he can not support Barr.
What set Benedict off was this press release from the Barr campaign, in which Barr praises the late Sen. Jesse Helms, an unapologetic racist, as "one of the finest, most courageous and deeply principled men to ever serve in the United States Congress."
Now, I wouldn't come down too hard on Barr just for saying nice things about a man who just died. But this is hardly an isolated incident. Barr has shown time and again that he is more conservative than libertarian. And I'm not talking about his Defense of Marriage Act, war on drugs, war on Wicca days in Congress. No, I'm talking about the anti-immigration press release he sent out last month, his pro-public school prayer campaigning last year, his support last year for a 10-year jail sentence for a 17-year-old who got oral sex from a 15-year-old.
And for good measure, here's an article Barr wrote last year - again, after his self proclaimed conversion to libertarianism - in which he calls for an expansion of the drug war in Columbia.
This guy isn't a libertarian by a long shot, just because he says he wouldn't stop states from legalizing pot (just don't try to import it from Columbia if you don't want to get shot with American weapons).
So for you libertarians planning on voting for Barr: Tell me again what the point is of voting for someone who doesn't believe what you believe, and also has absolutely no chance of winning. Arthur Torrey and Wes Benedict have an answer for you.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Saturday, July 5, 2008
That's according to polling firm Rasmussen Reports: "Libertarian voters make up 4% of the nation’s likely voters and they favor Barack Obama over John McCain by a 53% to 38% margin."
Full poll numbers here. HotAir's Allahpundit on the poll: "The silver lining: Maybe this means Bob Barr does more damage to Obama than to McCain."
I don't quite follow Allahpundit's reasoning. Because libertarians (loosely defined in this poll as people who are socially liberal and economically conservative) like Obama, they might be more likely to leave his camp and vote for someone else? That seems like a stretch. More likely, Barr will get 1 or 2 percent of the vote, almost all from libertarians (broadly defined), and Obama and McCain will split the rest 60/40 (not counting those who choose not to vote, of course). I don't think Chuck Baldwin, Ralph Nader, the Boston Tea Party or anyone else to get a significant number of libertarian votes.
The big question: how many libertarians are there? Rasmussen says 4%. The Cato Institute's David Boaz says 12%. The Libertarian Party trumpeted a survey in 1996 that claimed that 20% of Americans are generally libertarians. That seems a bit steep. But even if it's only 4%, Obama's libertarian vote total should be enough to put him over the top this year.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Marx·ism (märk-ˌsi-zəm) noun: the political, economic, and social principles and policies advocated by Marx; especially : a theory and practice of socialism including the labor theory of value, dialectical materialism, the class struggle, and dictatorship of the proletariat until the establishment of a classless society.
- Merriam Webster
It has become fashionable for some conservatives and libertarians who don't like Barack Obama to call him a "communist" or a "Marxist." Alan Keyes got the ball rolling during his pathetic 2004 run for the U.S. Senate when he called Obama a "hard core academic Marxist." Last month, disgraced former congressman Tom DeLay declared that "unless he proves me wrong, he is a Marxist." There's even a web site, CommieObama.com (I'm not going to link), that sells Soviet-style fur hats with Obama's name and a hammer and sickle.
So what has Obama done to deserve the Marxist label? Keyes, DeLay and CommieObama don't go into any detail. Nor do the occasional comments on this blog that make the same accusation. The Canada Free Press newspaper actually does try to make the case for Obama being a communist in a lengthy article - titled "Is Barack Obama a Marxist Mole?" - that's a popular link for conservative and libertarian bloggers. So what did the Free Press come up with in the way of evidence? Obama is friends with some socialists, including U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. He has admitted attending "socialist conferences" in his youth. One of his good friends was a member of the Communist Party in the 1940s. A few communists have said nice things about Obama.
That's it? That's all you've got? Over 4,000 words and no evidence, just some innuendo and tenuous connections? This is pathetic.
Obama has proposed cutting taxes for the middle class. He's the favorite candidate of Wall Street, destroying John McCain in donations from this group. Capitalists from Warren Buffett to Paul Volcker are supporting him. This isn't exactly a candidacy that I can see Karl Marx getting behind.
Does Obama want more government involvement in health care and more regulation to protect the environment? He does (as do George W. Bush and John McCain, respectively). Obama is a center-left politician thoroughly within the American mainstream, who also has some libertarian tendencies. If this makes someone a communist, than the word has no meaning any more. Anyone who calls Obama a communist is either misinformed, dishonest or delusional. Or maybe they just have no respect for the English language.
"A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts."
- George Orwell, Politics and the English Language
Friday, June 27, 2008
An excerpt from the Bob Barr mailer posted below: "During my time in Congress, I was a strong advocate of border security. For four years in a row, I voted to authorize the use of the military to assist in border control efforts." The entire thing is posted on Third Party Watch.
This guy claims to be a libertarian?
Contrast Barr's militarize-the-border approach to the Libertarian Party's stance on the issue: "We can spend billions more to beef up border patrols. We can erect hundreds of miles of ugly fence slicing through private property along the Rio Grande. We can raid more discount stores and chicken-processing plants from coast to coast. We can require all Americans to carry a national ID card and seek approval from a government computer before starting a new job.
"Or we can change our immigration law to more closely conform to how millions of normal people actually live.
Barr's letter (I've trimmed it a bit for space):
John McCain and Barack Obama Plan To Bring Back “COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM”
From The Desk of Rep. Bob Barr
Dear Friend and Fellow American,
We’re facing a “new” crisis: BORDER SECURITY.
But really, this is the same crisis we faced last year at this time, when Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy tried to push their “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” bill on us—supported by Senator Barack Obama!
The American people were able to STOP the McCain-Kennedy bill—but will we be able to stop PRESIDENT McCain (or PRESIDENT Obama) from pushing it through again?
We need to send a strong message to both the Republicans AND the Democrats, to let them know that WE MEAN BUSINESS when it comes to securing the border!
A lack of border security allows foreign criminals, carriers of communicable diseases, terrorists and other potential threats to enter the country unchecked. We must be aggressive in securing our borders while also fighting the big-government “nanny state” that seeks to coddle even those capable of providing for their own personal prosperity....
We don’t need McCain’s OR Obama’s “comprehensive immigration reform” bills. What we DO need is to secure our borders NOW. The fact is, our government doesn’t HAVE an immigration policy right now—one day they want to build a fence, the next day they want to build a “virtual” fence. It changes daily, and it’s ineffective. What we need is simple: Let’s go back to how we USED to do it, when we had a REAL border. If people want to enter America, we require them to come through a checkpoint, check that their health is not dangerous to our citizens, and that they have a legitimate ID....
During my time in Congress, I was a strong advocate of border security. For four years in a row, I voted to authorize the use of the military to assist in border control efforts. Our overworked, understaffed Border Patrol Agents need all the help they can get, and I voted to send them that help in preventing the entry of terrorists and criminals into the United States.
Don’t the voters in America deserve the chance to vote for a candidate that will secure our border?...
I believe that you share my concern about our dangerous lack of border security. I believe that you agree that this is a national security crisis. And I believe that, like me, you want to send a strong message to the politicians who have been pandering to the supporters of compromised security for too long now. The best way to do that today is by helping to get me on every state ballot, so that I can challenge the Washington “status quo” on illegal immigration and border security. CLICK HERE to donate now.
I’m not asking you to vote for me right now. I’m just asking you to help me send a strong message to BOTH the Republicans and Democrats, that the American people are sick and tired of politicians playing games with the national security of the United States.
Help me to turn things around in this presidential campaign, and put the focus back where it should be—on America.
United States Libertarian Party
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I give you my word right now: If Barack Obama supports Senate Resolution 580, I will shut down this web site and cease to support him in any way.
Resolution 580, for those of you who are not familiar, is a non-binding measure that has gotten little media attention. But it is a big deal. The resolution calls for sanctions and a U.S. naval blockade against Iran - tantamount to a declaration of war. It is being heavily pushed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Does anyone doubt that if George W. Bush decided that he wanted to start a war with Iran before he left office, this resolution would be all the justification he would need? AntiWar.com reports that the House of Representatives version of 580, Resolution 362, will likely come up for a vote next week.
From AntiWar.com: The Iran Nuclear Watch Web site writes, “According to the House leadership, this resolution is going to ‘pass like a hot knife through butter’ before the end of June on what is called suspension – meaning no amendments can be introduced during the 20-minute maximum debate. It also means it is assumed the bill will pass by a 2/3 majority and is non-controversial.”
Preventing war with Iran is the issue in this election. Do you want gas prices to stop rising? Do you want taxes not to go up? Do you want the economy to recover? Do you want some of the civil liberties that Bush has taken away to come back? All of these things will be impossible if the U.S. goes to war with Iran (AntiWar.com has even more reasons that this war would be disastrous, if you need them).
According to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies: "An attack on Iranian nuclear facilities in Bushehr, Arak, and Natanz, could have various adverse effects on U.S. interests in the Middle East and the world. Most important, in the absence of evidence of an Iranian illegal nuclear program, an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities by the U.S. or Israel would be likely to strengthen Iran's international stature and reduce the threat of international sanctions against Iran. Such an event is more likely to embolden and expand Iran's nuclear aspirations and capabilities in the long term."
I haven't seen anything in the media about Obama's position on Resolution 580. The resolution has 19 cosponsors, Democrats and Republicans, and thankfully Obama is not one of them (neither is John McCain, surprisingly). But after his sorry performance before AIPAC earlier this month, I am a bit wary. I called and emailed Obama's Senate office today inquiring about his position on the resolution, but I haven't gotten a response yet. I'll let you all know if I hear back. Don't let me down, Barack.