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.

Shocker: Al Qaida Hates Peace and Loves War

Why else would they be supporting John McCain?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The State Sponsors of Terrorism List is a Joke

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 in Palin's Office?

"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

Bruce Ramsey and More Libertarians Supporting Obama

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

Wayne Allyn Root and Sarah Palin

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

Libertarian Obama Gear

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: I'm sure that I'm not the only libertarian who would love to demonstrate his support for Obama with a button. A Statue of Liberty image would be appropriate, but a Liberty Bell, picture of Thomas Jefferson or "Don't Tread on Me" picture would also be a good fit. Please let me know what you think of my proposal.

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 (

Sunday, October 5, 2008

From the Comments

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