Thursday, October 09, 2008

What the heck was that clever title I thought of?

I gotta start writing things down.

I was reading the articles in this month's Liberty magazine, each recommending a different candidate for liberty friendly reasons. The first is on Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr:
But already in spring 2000, back in the period of our naivete about the threats to our country from international crime, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction, Barr was there testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. Besides explaining the need to update our laws so as to reflect changing technologies and threats, the former Central Intelligence Agency analyst offered leadership and clear guidance about protecting our liberties as well as our lives. His words are worth quoting at length:
While Americans remain solidly in support of a strong foreign intelligence gathering capability, they are not willing to do so at the expense of their domestic civil liberties. Any blurring of the heretofore bright line between gathering of true, foreign intelligence, and surreptitious gathering of evidence of criminal wrongdoing by our citizens, must be brought into sharp focus, and eliminated. Failure to take the steps to do so will erode the public confidence in our intelligence agencies that is a hallmark of their success. Failure to take steps to do so is a serious breach of our public duty to ensure the Bill of Rights is respected even as our nation defends itself against foreign adversaries and enemies.

The importance of effective foreign intelligence gathering, and of constitutional domestic law enforcement — both of which must respect U.S. citizens’ right to privacy — demands more than stock answers and boilerplate explanations. What is required is a thorough and sifting examination of authorities, jurisdiction, actions, and remedies. This is especially true, given that an entire generation has come and gone since the last time such important steps were taken.

Still further back, in 1998, Barr alone stood with Ron Paul in explaining to their fellow House members why a proposed national ID system would violate our privacy and civil liberties without making us safer. Imagine how much better off we would have been had a Barr Administration responded to the tragedies of September 11.

Bob Barr has a long record working with broad coalitions to make policy. Although a drug warrior in Congress, he often worked with drug war opponents in coalitions to protect privacy and other civil liberties. There is no other choice for those who value our rights and liberties — and our desire to work together to achieve legitimate goals.

And he has lot's more ammo in his magazine in favor of Barr.

The next two recommendations are rather less enthusiastic, focussing on the fact that only a Demopublican can win an American election. Bruce Ramsey gives The Case for Obama, the strongest part of which, to my mind, is a quote of Gene Healy:
Gene Healy, a vice president at Cato, author of “The Cult of the Presidency” (2008) and a contributing editor of Liberty, gave this answer:
...After our recent experience with a “conservative” president who launched the greatest expansion of the welfare state since LBJ, I find it hard to take seriously the notion that libertarians need to line up behind another Republican in order to save the country from looming socialism. Particularly when that Republican is a bellicose TR-worshiper and the dream candidate for the National Greatness Conservatives who’ve done so much damage to the country over the last seven years. . . . Obama’s public positions on war and executive power — even after the recent flip-flop on wiretapping — are preferable to McCain’s from a libertarian perspective. But Bush’s positions on spending and nation building were better than Gore’s in 2000, so who can predict?

And Ramsey's own thoughts:
In any coalition, if the weaker party is to have influence, it has to be willing to leave. Most of the time it will not do that; it will support people it doesn’t totally agree with, in exchange for their support on some things, and the hope of greater influence in the long run. But it always has to be willing to walk out. If it won’t, then it is nothing more than the majority’s poodle.
If libertarians are to have any influence on the Right, the neocon-led coalition (and not all Bush voters are neocons) has to be defeated. This already started to happen in the midterm elections of 2006, when the Republicans lost the Senate and the House. But the party hasn’t gotten the message that war is an election-loser. The party still has the White House, and it has nominated a neocon-backed military man to keep it. If McCain wins, the neocons win and the “War on Terror” continues under a leader who promises victory at all costs. On foreign policy, Republicans need to rethink what they think. And for that to happen, the Republican nominee has to lose.

The McCain supporter, Stephen Cox, editor of Liberty, writes:
This year, it’s conceivable that Obama may gain a state, and thus win the election, if there’s an outpouring of antiwar conservative and libertarian votes for Barr. I doubt that will happen, because my humble opinion is that most voters agree with me and vote for one of the major-party candidates, trying to exclude the worse one from the presidency. But now we’ve returned to the only real political issue: Would you rather exclude Obama or McCain? That’s what the presidential election will decide. To say “I’d rather exclude them both” is like answering a survey question, “Would you rather (A) have lower taxes; or (B) have higher taxes,” by saying, “Not applicable: I’d rather have no taxes.” Of course you would. So would I. But that isn’t the question. The question in the 2008 election is simply: Which candidate will be excluded, Obama or McCain?

I say, exclude Obama.
And the list of reasons goes on and on: Obama’s glad embrace of black nationalist “liberation” (i.e., neocommunist) theology, until the nature of his church was miraculously revealed; his willingness to lie about his background and associations, many of which can be justified by his followers only on the basis of his cynical willingness to cadge support from nuts and demagogues; his life (and the life of his influential spouse), spent in the service of racial preferences; his slanderous description of people who vote against him as bitter folk who cling like mollusks to their guns and their religion and their “antipathy to people who aren’t like them”; his amorphous political positions, each one dedicated to the proposition that he must be president, for whatever reasons he wants to dream up (if he’s an antiwar candidate, God help the cause of pacifism); and finally, and most egregiously, the pompous condescension that he manifests in every moment of his public being.

He elaborates on that last point quite a bit. Well, for instance:
...[T]he greatest problem about voting Democratic, even when the Democratic candidate isn’t a little Napoleon, is always that Democratic presidencies bring to Washington tens of thousands of counselors, bureaucrats, judges, and social action profiteers, an invading force that is always even farther to the big-government left than their boss, who at least had to be elected by the nation as a whole. The greatest problem with voting Republican is that Republican presidencies bring to Washington tens of thousands of stumblebums who haven’t a clue about how to reduce the size of government, or even to govern intelligently. Is there a clearer political choice? The worst you can say about the Republicans — and this is very bad indeed — is that they behave like Democrats. The best you can say — and it’s not very good, but it is important — is that they are not Democrats. Occasionally they nominate a Justice Thomas. Occasionally they lower taxes. Occasionally they raise speed limits, abolish conscription, or defend the 2nd Amendment. And they never nominate a Messiah.

Doug Casey gives a pretty good case for NOTA (none of the above). I particularly like his points four and five:
4. Voting just encourages them. I’m convinced that most people don’t actually vote for a candidate; they vote against the other candidate. But that’s not how the guy who gets the vote sees it; he thinks it’s a mandate for him to rule. It’s ridiculous to justify voting by endorsing the lesser of two evils.

Incidentally, I got as far as this point in 1980 when, as luck would have it, I did an hour alone on the Phil Donahue Show on the very day before the election. The audience had been very much on my side up to the point at which Phil accused me of voting for Mr. Reagan, and I had to explain why I wasn’t. Unfortunately, telling them they shouldn’t vote was just more than they could handle. The prospect of their stoning me precluded my explaining the fifth and possibly most practical point.

5. Your vote doesn’t count. Politicians and political hacks like to say that every vote counts because it gets everybody into busybody mode. But statistically, one vote in scores of millions makes no more difference than a single grain of sand on the beach. That’s completely apart from the fact that, as voters in Chicago in 1960 and Florida in 2000 can tell you, when it actually is close, things can be rigged. And anyway, officials manifestly do what they want — not what you want — once they’re in office.

The only way your vote counts is to make you complicit in the crimes that will inevitably be committed by its recipient.

I kind of wish they'd have had somebody pushing Nader (Independent), McKinney (Green Party) and Baldwin (Constitution Party) as well. Of the four I see here, I have to say that the strongest case by far is the one for Barr (free bumper-sticker slogan for you, guys). I'm not really partial to Nader or McKinney overall, but I was very impressed by their speeches at the Third Party joint news conference organized by Ron Paul. The main point in Baldwin's favor is that he was working for Ron Paul when the Constitution Party tapped him to be their candidate, and - after Barr snubbed Paul's news conference - Paul endorsed Baldwin.

I'd like to join the snit, but Jansen's case for Barr is too strong.

Barr/Root 2008!

Oh, yeah: Nader, McKinney. Hey! I like this video on McKinney's site.

Where was I? Oh yeah!

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