Friday, September 26, 2008

An actually GOOD Presidential Debate!

I hate listening to candidate debates because I have to listen to the Democrats and the Republicans promote state action with nobody thinking to call them on anything.

But now I have found a Presidential Debate I can enjoy! Reason Magazine is hosting Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate who is, of course, excluded from the debates -- in a simulcast: He is sitting in a studio, broadcasting on the Web, with a TV showing the main debate and periodically Barr mutes the sound and gives HIS response.

Check it out at !

Barr's answers are absolutely top-notch! This guy used to BE a Senator, don't forget; he knows stuff. He makes smart remarks, like saying McCain's foreign policies will make Bush look like a peacenik.

Worth watching!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"The free market has nothing to do with the current financial crisis"

"Corporatism, Not Capitalism: The free market has nothing to do with the current crisis"

Reason Magazine, "Free Minds/Free Markets," says today (Sept 24, 2008):

There's nothing free market about the [US federal goverment] bailout [of the financial sector of Wall Street], writes Senior Editor Radley Balko. It's a peculiar kind of corporatist socialism, where good risks and the resulting profits remain private, but bad risks and the resulting losses are passed on to taxpayers.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Uncle Jay explains our current financial crisis--as well as anyone!

If you haven't discovered the joys of watching Uncle Jay Explain the News each week, this is an excellent opportunity for you to start. Go to:

and Uncle Jay will explain financial crisis, in an episode that does every bit as good a job as anything you've watched on CNN in the past few days, or are likely to hear from the nearest politician!

Uncle Jay explains the news "to little minds," by which, I foolishly thought for a brief while, he meant kids. Nope.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Believe It or Not, Here are 4 Presidents Who Were Even Worse Than Bush!

According to recent public opinion polls, only one third or fewer of those surveyed approve of President Bush's overall job performance. More startlingly, about one quarter consider George W. Bush to be the worst president in U.S. history. If these respondents took the time to look closer at other U.S. presidents, however, they might well rank them even lower than they rank Bush, as Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland suggests in his latest op-ed.

Eland offers a litany of costly mistakes, bad precedents, and unconstitutional abuses by previous U.S. presidents. James Polk, for example, lied to get Congress to declare a war to grab land from Mexico. William McKinley permanently expanded the president's power at the expense of Founder's vision of the balance of power between the three branches of the federal government, and he also turned the anti-colonial United States into a colonizer in the Philippines and in other lands formerly occupied by Spain. Woodrow Wilson plunged the country into World War I and helped set in motion a chain of causation that would lead to World War II. In addition, writes Eland, "Wilson's violations of civil liberties during World War I were the worst in U.S. history and make Bush's look fairly mild." Harry Truman enshrined Wilsonian interventionism, permanently burying the traditional U.S. foreign policy of military restraint. Eland also takes Truman to task for intentionally bombing civilians in World War II and the Korean war, unconstitutionally fighting the Korean War without a formal declaration, laying the groundwork for the first large permanent peacetime army in U.S. history, and more.

"Make no mistake," Eland concludes. "George W. Bush has been a horrible president and is one of the worst in U.S. history. But of the 42 men who have served as president, these four men--Polk, McKinley, Wilson, and Truman--were probably worse."

"Is George W. Bush the Worst President in U.S. History?" by Ivan Eland (9/13/08)

Also see, "To Make War, Presidents Lie," by Robert Higgs (10/1/2002)

"No More 'Great Presidents,'" by Robert Higgs (The Free Market, 5/1/97)

The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed (Updated Edition), by Ivan Eland

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, Director)

"A Conservative for Obama" editorial: Don't hate tax cuts, hate spending increases!

Someone sent me a copy of an essay published in September in the Dallas city magazine, Big D, in which the former publisher of the conservative National Review says he's going to vote for Obama because he's less likely to get us into a war than McCain, and Obama also shows glimmers of useful pragmatism.

Good essay. He's right about the Republicans not being conservatives in any helpful sense any more - or for a long time. I am not confident that the Democrats are a whit better, but still... He's not promoting the Demos, he's promoting Obama, and he makes a good case.

However, I hate the misreading of the value and meaning of tax cuts -- first, we are not in debt because of the tax cuts -- the improvement in the economy since then generated more money for the government than projections had it earning before the cuts. Second, we are in debt because we are spending even more, if that is possible, than ever before - much, much more. Much of that on the war, but equally profligate in every other area Washington touches. There is simply no amount of tax money that will pay the bill when the politicians hold the credit cards. Just try asking a politician or a tax-eating special interest how much is enough? You'll never get a useful answer--because enough is all of it. There will never be enough money to satisfy them. Every increase in revenues is overmastered by a bigger increase in spending - whether in war or peace, in crisis or in flush times.

Third, if the economy is indeed staggering at this time, the worst thing on earth is to increase taxes -- not even on those awful, awful people, the "rich." JFK made this exact same argument while President, and then signed the largest tax cut since WWII - which was followed by the boom that helped define the economics of the 60s. The right thing to do, in reality, would be to cut marginal tax rates, especially where they will boost the economy most -- on the rich, on investment, on capital gains, on corporations. Yeah, I know -- all the devils of the modern world, what could I be thinking?

And then, of course, to cut government spending, which we should be doing even if revenues are up and even if we increase taxes. But we will never, in our lifetimes, have a budget of any level of government that goes down from one year to the next. Or even stays even. The most we can hope for is that a planned 20% increase will be held to, say a 12% increase -- whereupon we'll have to endure complaints that spending has been "slashed" 8% and how we are suffering!

Marlarky, baloney, bullshit. I weary of it.

But as he says, Obama is marginally less likely to invade someone, and might actually be a Kennedy type of character who would hesitate to kick the economy in the nuts, if he's really as "pragmatic" as this guy is hoping. We can all only hope.

McCain would be better, even with his lust for invasion, if only he were a real Republican conservative, who would cut taxes, reduce government impositions, reduce spending *somewhere, anywhere*, regulate less impulsively, and argue against government intervention in every aspect of human endeavor. But of course he's not a conservative in any of these areas, he's only, like all of his kind, a lifetime member of the Republican faction of the Politicians' Party.

So is Obama, though for a shorter lifetime, and so less embedded. A tiny flicker of nonpolitician hesitation would be a welcome relief at this point. Not to mention any little hope, however faint, that we won't try to play policeman or Superman to anyone outside our borders for the next four years.

But me, I'm voting Libertarian across the board. The heck with it. Maybe we'll get lucky and Obama will get the nod instead of McCain. But either way, I'm not voting for the Politician's Party this year either. Marginal variations in levels of oppression are welcome, but not worth my vote.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Election 2008: Experience versus Judgment?

The Independent Institute in Oakland, CA, has an original and interesting view of this debate!


Both Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin have been criticized for their "inexperience." In his latest op-ed, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland argues that experience should not be a determining factor in the selection of national political leaders. Richard Nixon and James Buchanan, for example, had lots of experience before becoming president, yet neither was a good president, according to Eland. In contrast, Chester Arthur was a good president despite having previously held only two mid-level jobs in New York and being vice president for a mere six months when the assassination of James Garfield thrust him into the Oval Office.

John McCain, although a more experienced candidate than Obama, has shown poor judgment on several matters of foreign policy, according to Eland, including calling for greater U.S. involvement in Iraq and advocating Georgia's entry into NATO--a move that could draw the United States into a military confrontation with Russia.

On the other hand, Obama, writes Eland, "was against invading Iraq from the start, has astutely championed withdrawing U.S. combat forces during what is likely to be a temporary lull in violence, and was much more measured about the conflict in Georgia, which threatened no vital U.S. strategic interests." McCain, Eland concludes, has too much experience in getting co-opted into making bad judgments from serving too long in Washington's military-industrial-congressional complex.

"A President Needs Good Judgment Rather than Experience," by Ivan Eland (9/8/08) Spanish Translation

The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed (Updated Edition), by Ivan Eland

Center on Peace & Liberty (Ivan Eland, Director)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Three Ways to Pick a Candidate

There are three basic issues you can use to help you choose  a leader:  
1. Their ideology: What their philosophy of government is, what they  think the government's proper role is, and where they draw the line.  There can be a very significant difference here, but it's hard stuff.  Also, the two main parties in the US (and mostly elsewhere) are  primarily the Politicians' Parties whose ideology is limited mainly to  getting elected and reelected.
So if you're stuck with politicians, you can try:
2. Their character: If you can't get the other guy on their vision of  government, maybe you can get them on personality? Whether they are  stiff (Nixon) or at ease (Obama), whether they fool around, whether they are corrupt, -- and  best of all -- whether they are hypocrites, the number-one favorite of  all political campaigns and of the press: Palin doesn't believe in sex  education in school and look - her kid gets pregnant, which shows she  can't control her kids (who can?) and that her ideas don't work in the  real world. That's why the Demos are jumping on this -- not because  they would do any better, or because they really think sex education and condoms in  schools would make a terrific dent in the teen pregnancy rate (studies are mixed), but because it makes Palin look  foolish. Zing!  
3. Their competence: Would they once in office be able to actually run  things and get people to do what they want? This is a combination of basic competence (ability to get things done at all), plus their influence over the political process in Washington. For an example of the latter, Obama amuses us with promises to "go over the  budget line by line" and eliminate waste and unworkable programs; in reality, as being  a Senator he knows full well, he'd  run into the Congressional buzzsaw protecting special interests. (Unless of course the entire  Congress is Democratic, and then you can eliminate "waste" easiliy since that, as all know, is championed  only by Republicans!). 
Hillary ran into this early with  questions by ultraconservatives about whether, as a woman mind you,  she'd be competent to run the government and put her finger on the big  red button. Well, they don't wonder about that any more, but instead are  scared of her. (Belatedly, after she lost the nomination, there were  articles about how poorly she ran her campaign compared to Obama, whose  campaign machine ran like -- well, like a machine. I found that a far more interesting comparison.)  
The variant on this is the Experience quibble, which gets very muddy  indeed. Obama doesn't have much "experience" and neither does Palin --  presumably, the only person with experience for this job is a past  President, wouldn't you think? 
Then you get into the question of *what  kind* of experience -- legislative, or executive? Is a Senator or a  Governor better suited, experience-wise? Of course, when neither has been  in higher office more than 4 years, nobody can claim they have  experience enough with a straight face -- can they?  So as a campaign, you zig and zag among these three methods of deciding  on a candidate, pickiug your strength and their weakness, and forgiving  your guy/gal for their weakness but being very unforgiving of the other  gal/guy's weakness.  Which wouldn't be so bad if the voters, who know better, used any kind  of sophistication in making their decisions.  
The great thing about being a Libertarian is that the second and third  issues don't mean bupkus to us. We're voting for our candidate's  ideology -- his vision of how the country *ought* to be run. We don't  care if he's *actually* competent to be President -- he never will be!  He hasn't got a prayer, so who cares? What an enormous relief!
Nor do we care about his morals or  hypocrisy or character -- like I say, he's never going to win an  election, so we vote for him strictly as a powerful symbol of our  ideological beliefs about right government. It's quite relaxing not to  have to worry about any of this, or pay much attention to the noise at  the major-party level.  
And it's quite depressing to know full well that no matter which pair of  major-party candidates gets elected, we're just as screwed -- the  details may vary slightly, but the trendlines are just bad, bad, bad, because their ideologies mean they will choose bad options, push for solutions that don't solve anythng, and never, never learn from their mistakes.
But then, we voters don't either, so why should they?

Dave Barry nails Obama Speech: "Read from stone tablets...!"

Dave Barry, of all people, nailed Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the DMC last week:

"...Barack Obama's now-legendary acceptance speech, which he read from stone tablets, in which he promised theAmerican public that if elected he would give them peace, jobs, healthcare, national security, energy independence, good schools, a clean enviroment, reduced government waste, lower taxes, the head of Osama bin Laden, giant underwater cities, time travel, and a magic flying zebra named 'Sparkle' for every American pre-schooler regardless of income level."

As I was listening to Barack speak, I became increasingly uncomfortable, and Barry has explained: Barack was basically promising the sun, the moon, and the skies -- and much of what he was promising was impossible to deliver, or really really hard to deliver even partially, or would be shockingly expensive to deliver even partially, or were simply fever dreams. 

Of course, that's the point: When politicians promise voters things in exchange for votes, they are just throwing pie up into the sky -- they have *no* idea how they could conceivably deliver the goods, even if all the opposition party went home and turned the whole government over to the speaker's own party.  

Paraphrasing, for example: "We are going to find and stop Osama bin Laden" -- how are you going to do that?? 

"We are going to deliver affordable, high-quality health care to every American" -- by government decree? 

The same government that screwed up when the hurricane ran over New Orleans? 

The same goverment whose every military campaign, military weapons project, major highway project, and major bridge project runs shockingly over budget? 

The same government whose waste and inefficiency is the stuff of legend? 

The same government that runs the DMV and the Post Office, the Army, the food stamps program, that monitors the health and quality of our food and our air and our purchases, that tells us how to live our lives and how to love one another and can't even keep the streets of our metro areas safe? 

That government?

Or is Obama going to bring in a backup government from the next county over?

Politicians would like you to think the solutions to these mindboggling, gigantic problems are just a matter of *political will* -- if we just *cared* enough, if we'd just be willing to make *sacrifices*, if we had courage, and if we could just vote for me and vote against the other political party--the one that is filled with people of ill will, who hate poor people and want to see the elderly die on the streets, who are all fat cats and brutes -- yes! All would be delivered to you! At no cost to you! We'll make the fat cats pay for it! The fat cats who are funding my campaign! The fat cats who pay lobbyists millions to meet with your Congressperson regularly! We'll go over the budget line by line and eliminate waste and get rid of programs that don't work anymore -- the programs that are sacred turf for this or that Congressional District -- yeah, I'll just slice 'em out.

If you believe even *one word* of that to be even close to true, you are a fool. Experience, history, human nature, and common sense are lost on you. As Dave Barry points out, Obama has promised us every good thing every Democrat has ever promised in the past fifty years. And of course McCain will pull out his laundry list of good things conservatives want, and promise them that at long last they'll get them. 

And we'll both believe them and vote for them on the one hand, while expressing our fake cynicism on the other. 

When governments take on every task, every challenge, promise everything at a cost of nothing, they not only play us for fools, they set up the entire government for failure. If you really DID care about the success of our government, you would be VERY careful what you let the politicians dump on its back. 

Plainly, the pols don't care -- they live for the moment, for the election. 

But you voters are supposed to care about the long term. 

Wake up, people!