Saturday, May 06, 2006

California Libertarian Party Embraces Demopublicans

In stark contrast to other third parties, the California Libertarian Party has endorsed the Republican and Democratic Parties stand on the Iraq War.

The 2006 Voter Guide, published by California's Secretary of State, includes a Political Party Statements of Purpose wherein the various political parties state their positions on the issues. On the war in Iraq, the parties make the following statements:

* The Peace and Freedom Party says: "stop the killing now and end this stupid, brutal war. Our party saw through the lies and opposed this war from the beginning. Vote for immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan!"

* The American Independent Party says: "Stop the undeclared wars which are daily costing American lives and billions of tax dollars; Stop the reckless spending, including foreign aid,"

* The Green Party says: "discover Green values, among them living wages, affordable health care and housing, and an end to the war in Iraq."

* The Libertarian Party says: " "

* The Republican Party says: " "

* The Democratic Party says: " "

Thus California Libertarians needn't fret about scaring voters with controversial positions. Instead, they can breathe easily, knowing the LP's statement to voters mirrors that of the Demopublicans. The LP has become a very respectable party indeed.

[The Natural Law Party did not submit a Statement of Purpose for the Voter Guide.]

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Larry Elder Supports Nuclear War

Radio's self-proclaimed "libertarian," Larry Elder, was discussing news reports today (April 12, 2006) that the Bush administration is considering the use of nuclear weapons on Iran. Elder said, "Probably. I hope we are."

I hope no one else considers him a libertarian.

Monday, March 27, 2006

If You're in My Face, I'm Not Free

In 1984 George Orwell observed that power is power over people. A corollary may be that freedom is freedom from people. Privacy. The right to determine who enters our personal space.

Privacy is enhanced through business diversity, which arises when businesses are free to ban people or behavior. Then we may frequent those venues that have filtered out whatever we wish to avoid. Unfortunately, some groups enlist government to inflict themselves on everyone, everywhere, all the time.

Take cell phones. Sure, everyone claims to have gotten them "only for emergencies," but the vast bulk of cell phone conversations I'm forced to overhear involve morons discussing the minutia of their non-lives. Ray Bradbury foresaw this blight as early as 1953 in "The Murderer," the story of a man who jams a busload of radio wristwatch users, panicking riders who are suddenly faced with silence and each other. Today some theaters, churches, restaurants, and other "public" venues want to emulate Bradbury by installing cell phone blockers. Unfortunately, federal law bans blockers (while exempting government agencies from the ban). In 2000 Travis Larson, speaking for the Cellular Telephone Industry Association, said, "The technology is illegal in the U.S. and it's our position that it should be."

So thanks to industry lobbying, we're denied the right to patronize venues that block the retards and their ridiculous ring tones. (Unless of course that venue bought a blocker in Mexico, where they're legally available — hint, hint.)

Then there's public breastfeeding. Some say it's beautiful and natural. Well, taking a dump is also natural. I still don't want to see anyone doing it. Unfortunately many states, California included, statutorily enforce a woman's "right" to inflict her hungry little precious on everyone. A "right" championed by the California Women's Law Center, which in 1999 sued a Glendale Borders bookstore for asking one mom to take it elsewhere. But rather than strong-arming stores, let's champion business diversity by allowing each venue to set its own policy. Then soccer moms can go their way, and I can go mine.

Speaking of rugrats, I'd pay extra to fly an airline that banned them. I've had one baby kick the back of my chair over a six hour flight, another terror tot who never tired of slamming his tray behind me, a grinning mom who cleaned the sh*t out of her infant's ass across the aisle from me rather than take it to the rest room, and the ubiquitous crying babies and kids racing in the aisles. Parents feel neither shame nor responsibility for their little darlings' misbehavior. "They're just letting off energy." Yeah, but do they have to let it off on me? I guess so, because if an airline ever did try to introduce adult-only flights, the FAA would likely intervene.

Still, if we're gonna suffer regulations, we should suffer equally, no? Not according to the SUV lobby. In the 1970s the feds began setting strict fuel emission standards for cars. Trucks were exempt because their large sizes were commercially necessary. However, auto manufacturers lobbied to exempt SUVs and minivans from cars' strict emission standards and "gas guzzler tax" penalties, claiming that SUVs are trucks--despite the fact that SUVs are non-commercial and use roads and lanes prohibited to trucks.

Now, I support gun ownership, but gun ownership requires responsibility, like not aiming your gun at somebody's head. Well, SUVs are guns pointed at small cars, crushing them in any accident. So if SUVs want the tax and emission exemptions enjoyed by trucks, then treat them like trucks. Stay in the truck lanes, away from small cars. Let's see how well you do against a tractor-trailer. Either that, or pay the gas-guzzler tax same as cars. Until we have private highways, so I can patronize those without SUVs, let's be statutorily consistent. It's neither liberal nor conservative nor libertarian to allow SUVs the best of both regulatory worlds.

Of course, I may be biased. I was nearly run down by an SUV soccer mom last year, who shouted while whizzing past me, "Sorry, I didn't see you, sorry!"

I'm allergic to tobacco. A few whiffs of second-hand smoke and I have a pounding headache. Twenty years ago I avoided the smokiest diners and patronized those with adequate no-smoking sections. I've benefited from the no-smoking hysteria, yet I oppose the government's intervention. I wish that cell phone yakkers, soccer moms, SUV road hogs, and others with annoying traits would stop asking the government for favors and let private venues set their own rules so I can choose whom to avoid.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

In Defense of Muslims

I see much mindless Muslim-bashing among "libertarians" and "conservatives," many of them claiming that Islam is inherently evil or violent. This, despite individualism being a key principle of libertarianism.

There are, what, over a BILLION MUSLIMS in the world? How many are involved in terrorism? Hundreds? Maybe thousands at most? That's still 0.0001% of the total.

Yes, there are savage statements in the Koran. But so too in the Old Testament. To deny Muslims, or Christians or Jews, their individuality is anti-libertarian, anti-American, anti-conservative, and anti-Christian.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Rep. Ron Paul Warns of Iran War

Congressman Ron Paul, before the US House of Representatives on February 16, 2006:

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this very dangerous legislation. My colleagues would do well to understand that this legislation is leading us toward war against Iran.

Those reading this bill may find themselves feeling a sense of déjà vu. In many cases one can just substitute "Iraq" for "Iran" in this bill and we could be back in the pre-2003 run up to war with Iraq. And the logic of this current push for war is much the same as was the logic used in the argument for war on Iraq. As earlier with Iraq, this resolution demands that Iran perform the impossible task of proving a negative – in this case that Iran does not have plans to build a nuclear weapon.

There are a few things we need to remember when thinking about Iran and this legislation. First, Iran has never been ruled in violation of its international nuclear non-proliferation obligations.

Second, Iran concluded a Safeguards Agreement more than 30 years ago that provides for the verification of Iran's fulfillment of its obligation to not divert nuclear energy programs to nuclear weapons development. Since this agreement was reached, the International Atomic Energy Agency has never found any indication that Iran has diverted or attempted to divert source or special nuclear materials from a peaceful purpose to a military purpose.

But, this does not stop those eager for conflict with Iran from stating otherwise. As the Washington Post reported last year, "U.S. officials, eager to move the Iran issue to the U.N. Security Council – which has the authority to impose sanctions – have begun a new round of briefings for allies designed to convince them that Iran's real intention is to use its energy program as a cover for bomb building. The briefings will focus on the White House's belief that a country with as much oil as Iran would not need an energy program on the scale it is planning, according to two officials."

This reminds us of the quick move to justify the invasion of Iraq by citing Iraq's "intentions" when actual weapons of mass destruction could not be found.

The resolution's second resolved clause is a real misrepresentation of the Iran/ EU3 talks. The "efforts of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom" were not "to seek...suspension of enrichment and reprocessing related activities..." As the EU3- Iran Paris Agreement makes very clear, the suspension of enrichment is a purely voluntary measure taken by Iran and is "not a legal obligation."

This is similar to the situation with Iran's voluntarily observation of the Additional Protocols (allowing unannounced inspections) without legally being bound to do so. Suspending voluntary observance of the Additional Protocols is not a violation of the NPT. But, those seeking to push us toward war with Iran are purposely trying to connect the two – to confuse voluntary "confidence building" measures taken by Iran with the legally-binding Treaty itself.

Resolved clause four of this legislation is the most inflammatory and objectionable part of the legislation. It lowers the bar to initiating war on Iran. This clause anticipates that the US may not be successful in getting the Security Council to pass a Resolution because of the potential of a Russian or Chinese veto, so it "calls upon" Russia and China to "take action" in response to "any report" of "Iran's noncompliance. That is right: any report.

Mr. Speaker, this resolution is a drumbeat for war with Iran. Its logic is faulty, its premises are flawed, and its conclusions are dangerous. I urge my colleagues to stop for a moment and ponder the wisdom of starting yet another war in the Middle East.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Postal "Security" Helps Terrorists

A postal regulation designed to fight terrorism has not only failed to protect us, it's weakened our economy, thus our ability to fight terrorism. Confused? Let's go back a decade.

My local post office used to open at 5 a.m. (window service at 9 a.m.) I'd enter at dawn, weigh my packages on one machine, buy stamps from another machine, and drop the packages in the mailbox. Convenient for me, as I often mail manuscripts. Convenient for other patrons, since they didn't have to wait on line behind me.

In 1996, TWA Flight 800 exploded. In the post-Oklahoma City climate, anti-government terrorists were immediately suspected. Clinton and Reno demanded tough new security measures to "fight terrorism." Their brainstorming resulted in those mailbox stick­ers, the ones requiring that all packages weighing a pound or more be hand-delivered to a postal employee.

I never understood how this was supposed to fight terrorism. I guess it's meant to prevent people from mailing bombs or drugs or whatnot. But wouldn't an X-ray or bomb-sniffing dog be more effective? Can't a terrorist as easily give a dangerous package to a postal worker as drop it in a mailbox? I've given packages to postal workers, and it's not like they do anything different if it weighs a pound. No one checks my ID or takes my photo... (Oh wait, better not give them any ideas.)

Anyway, we now have this utterly pointless regulation that Clinton/Reno foisted on us to prevent another Flight 800. Except that it was later determined that the explosion wasn't caused by terrorism but by mechanical failure. (Unless you believe those conspiracists who blame the downing on "friendly fire" from a US Navy ship; either way, it wasn't terrorism.)

Naturally, even after terrorism was ruled out, the regula­tion wasn't repealed. I guess the feds decided that it was still a great way to fight terrorism. Except that the regulation never made sense even before terrorism was ruled out. It didn't prev­ent 9/11. It didn't even prevent anyone from mailing anthrax.

You may say this regulation is a small thing, so who cares if it's ineffective? Can't hurt. But it does hurt. It hurts our economy. And that's one goal of terrorism. Weak economies create political instability. Weak economies can't afford top security people or equipment.

How does this regulation hurt our economy? I used to be able to drop my package in a mailbox, no time wasted. But re­cently, I wasted a half hour at the post office. My package was all weighed and stamped, but I waited on line just to give it to a clerk, just so she could toss it into a bin without a glance.

Now add that up. Add up all my time wasted yearly just to hand deliver packages that could as easily be dropped in a mail­box. Multiply that by millions of others waiting on line for the same purpose. If only ten million people waste ten hours each a year due to this pointless law, we're already talking a hundred million work hours lost to the economy. And it's easily more than that.

All that lost productivity, for a regulation that hinders people from doing honest business, but did nothing to prevent anyone from mailing anthrax.

But can't I give my packages to my letter carrier? I wish I knew. I've tried. It's worked sometimes. But I've also had the letter carrier accept my package, only to return it days later stamped "return to sender" because it wasn't hand delivered at the post office. (I mean, what's the point? If they think it may be a bomb, why not call in the FBI? Why return it to me?)

Yes, it seems a small inconvenience, but that's the most ef­fective way of destroying freedom; chipping away at it rather than taking it all at once. A frog will jump out of a pot of hot water, but if you place it in cool water, then bring it to a slow boil, the frog will remain there until it dies.

Yes, I know some idiots will scream, "Hey, in case you have­n't heard, we're at war!" as they defend every law designed to "fight terrorism," no matter how pointless and ineffective and even counterproductive. Such people don't care about my personal inconveniences. They don't even care about their own liberties. But why are they helping terrorists by weakening our economy?