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Posts Tagged ‘Tea Party’

The shooting that happened in Arizona last weekend was appalling. Anyone who would wantonly spray a crowd of people with bullets is not worth much consideration as a human. Jared Loughner’s actions are indefensible. He could have perhaps staked a very weak claim to the morality of using force against agents of the state that imposes force against us all every day. It would have been a weak and tenuous claim, a claim that I have rejected from others whenever they have advocated it in my presence. Instead, what he did was turn his gun on a crowd of innocent people. He was just a murderer. I feel deeply sorry for the families of the dead and I hope just as much for the recovery of the injured. For Loughner, I hope he is locked away forever. Executing him would just drag society down to his level.

I was in Canada when the shooting happened, so I was able to avoid the sketchy early reporting. I did get back just in time to catch a lot of leftists (H/T: Andrew) making an  unseemly spectacle out of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party’s supposed culpability in Loughner’s crime. It made me sad to see a respectable blogger like Andrew Sullivan, one of my all-time favorites, jump so quickly to this conclusion. The reality of the matter is that Loughner is an incoherent fool. He is mad as a march hare. What he did was horrible and I hope he is punished severely, but he did not do this as some sort of foot soldier of the Tea Party or because Sarah Palin put a target on a map. He did this because in his crazy mind, government is assaulting language or something like that.

And I can understand why so many leftists leapt to this conclusion. Sarah Palin is a HORRIBLE human being. She has aroused new levels of contempt in me, something that is remarkable given my inborn antipathy for statists. I dislike all of the presidents, but I am confident that were Palin elected, she would quickly find herself battling with FDR and Woodrow Wilson for the title of worst of all-time.

So yes, let us defeat Palin the lying, ignorant, Bible-thumping barbarian. But not in this way. Not in a way that manipulates the deaths of innocent people to reach a political end. If you really think some map graphic on a Sarah Palin website made this nutter kill those people, you have a serious correlation vs. causation problem you need worked out.

As for the overreactions from the agents of Leviathan, join me in vomiting on them all. First there was Rep. Bob Brady D-PA (H/T: Andrew), presumably some sort of vulgar mouth-breather who would just feel more important if he had a taxpayer-funded security detail behind him. Guess what, Bob? No one made you become one of the chief agents of the criminal gang running this country. You had a choice. You chose to become a slave overseer. If you don’t like the risks inherent in the job, then get the hell out. Just now, I saw some dumb shmuck calling for bipartisan seating at the State of the Union address. Good God. The only thing I would like about that sort of useless maneuver is that it might cause some more people to realize that this country is really a one-party (War Party) state. And then there are the worst of the worst, the people calling for limits on speech, the people calling for the Fred Phelps church to be banned from funerals, the people calling for the Fairness Doctrine to return, etc. Just shut up, all of you. I think about half of those people are really just sand-headed kneejerkers of the lowest sort, whilst the other half are hardcore statists who wanted those policies all along and are just using the current tragedy as an excuse.

Best pundit reaction? I’d have to say Radley Balko. He was one of the few people to not let the government off the hook here and remind people that the state initiates force against each of us every day. That was a hard thing for a national pundit to say after this sort of event, so good for him. From my perspective, it’s important to say that Loughner is crazy as a loon and guilty as hell. But don’t let the deranged actions of one murderer become for America what the Port Arthur massacre was/is for Australia–a blank check for kneejerkers and statists to achieve long-held goals in an emotional moment.

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Reason‘s November issue just came out. One of the great things about Reason is they post a lot of their content free online immediately, and all of it free online by the next month. So this month’s cover story, “How to Slash the State” is already available now. It’s a detailed playbook of 14 cuts we could make to start paring back the state, since the allegedly anti-state Tea Partiers have such trouble coming up with anything other than “waste” and “earmarks” when they are pushed.

There was a time not so long ago, even a few months ago, when I would have loved this sort of story. I thought government was still redeemable–if not ours, at least some ideal government somewhere. I was a minarchist, even going so far as to consider joining the Libertarian Party.

Thank God those days are over.

The only way to “slash” the state that actually matters is to slash it through the jugular and slay the beast. The great Albert Jay Nock once wrote that the state “claims and exercises the monopoly of crime.” Max Weber defined it as a “monopoly of violence.” These definitions are spot on. Governments have always and will always aggress against peaceful people. The sad thing is that the vast majority of peaceful people welcome the aggression, so long as it’s directed against their neighbors. These are the people who blindly worship the police and the military, the people who support the war on drugs, the people who believe in health codes and barber shop licenses and every other trapping of Leviathan’s .

We can pare the state back, but the aggression will still be there. And chances are that any paring back will be more than offset the next time there is a crisis and unscrupulous politicians exploit Americans’ inborn attachment to fear and insecurity to take more powers for themselves.

I will continue to read Reason. I link to their blog all the time. Some of their writers, most notably Radley Balko, are best-in-class talents. But it’s clear that they don’t get it. A minimalist state is still a state, and a state will never live by the nonaggression principle supposedly held dear by the Republican-lite Libertarian Party. The only way for us to live in freedom, whether it is libertarian freedom or socialist freedom or Christian freedom, is for us to slay the state and live peacefully in small communities of mutually-consenting people.

Do your homework. Commit to memory names like Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Lysander Spooner and Leo Tolstoy. Start reading (here, here, here and here). Start listening to Free Talk Live, Thinking Liberty and the Mises Institute archives. Stop believing the state can ever be redeemed.

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There was a pretty bare-bones op-ed in the St. Petersburg Times yesterday that I rather enjoyed. Its title? “Soviet Collapse Ruined the U.S.” It’s such a massive argument that it’s almost impossible to make in the 500+ words this guy got, but he’s pretty right. His argument is that the Cold War got the U.S. to do a lot of unprecedented stuff just to stay ahead of the Soviets. Once the Soviets fell apart, the U.S. didn’t know what to do with this massive military-industrial apparatus that was by then self-perpetuating through its attachment to all sorts of pet constituencies. After a decade of searching, we found a new enemy, al-Qaeda, and now we are lavishing Cold War-magnitude resources on fighting a few hundred guys with AK-47s in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We may have won the Cold War, but at the expense of creating a military-industrial state that is now killing us.

I’m fleshing out his argument a bit. There’s also some stuff he said that I flat-out don’t agree with, like the notion that U.S. involvement in Cold War Africa was a positive externality in the realm of democratization and free markets. Oh, like supporting Mobutu Sese Soko and perpetuating the horrific war in Angola? Not so much.

But for the most part, he’s right. I have had this suspicion, certainly not original, that Osama bin Laden may not have cared how many people died on 9/11. For him, it may have just been about creating a horrifying spectacle that would be replayed again and again, making Americans seek vengeance abroad and “security” at home under the aegis of a corrupt government, equal parts morally and financially bankrupt. All he had to do was send a few guys to flight school for a few months and then wait for America to overreact with a character-destroying, treasury-emptying never-ending war. If this was bin Laden’s plan, damn him for knowing our psyche so well and exploiting it so effectively.

And let there be no doubt that this military-industrial complex is entrenched, self-perpetuating and unlikely to disappear until our country crumbles. Just this past weekend, the rot-in-Hell neocon Bill Kristol took to the WSJ to write an op-ed about how we mustn’t cut military spending. The blogosphere lit into him for it, but what does it matter? We are just the chattering classes. The only politicians serious about cutting the military budget in any meaningful way (sorry, Robert Gates) are a handful of congressmen like Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich and Barney Frank.

The Tea Party hates the idea of spending, but seem entirely disinterested in asking the military to take cuts, let alone Social Security. The mainstream Republicans make no pretenses about their near-constant fellating of anything in uniform. And the vast majority of Democrats are either too scared to talk about cutting the defense budget for fear of how they will be painted as un-American in the next campaign’s attack ads or too wedded to unions to think about turning off the funding faucet.

It’s sick. Even if the defense budget was not dragging this country deeper into the red and helping to finish off our currency once and for all, there would still be something wrong about one country spending almost as much as the rest of the world combined on military expenditures. We don’t need these things. We don’t need the roughly 700 bases in foreign countries around the world. We don’t need wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We don’t need ever-deadlier nuclear weapons. What we need, insofar as we believe in the state at all, is a defense force that protects our homes and properties.

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  • NYT: Lindsey Graham is a sick, sick puppy. A man equally dough-faced in politics and his own countenance, he has come under fire from the Republican base in his home state of South Carolina for being too liberal. Graham has seen what the Tea Party has done in getting rid of Republicans even more conservative than him this year and can’t hold much hope for his future. That’s what I think is behind his proposal to alter the 14th Amendment and get rid of birthright citizenship. It’s a page stolen from the playbook of “tough on crime” leftists, who knowingly sell out civil liberties and nonviolent criminals in an attempt to not look wimpy. In my mind, this ploy is even worse–the schmuck is talking about altering the Constitution and changing a working citizenship law just to protect his political future. I hope you will have many long years to reflect on your next term in the Senate when you are burning in hell, Lindsey!
  • NYT: Senate passes an immigration bill by unanimous consent that will require increased U.S.-Mexico border security to in part be funded by raising fees on Indian-owned firms that employ Indian immigrant-majority staffs in the U.S. What? It probably won’t surprise you to learn that Chuck Schumer was the guy behind this populist bit of hijacking. Please issue a moral defense of the idea that companies that hire too many Indians should pay for more wasteful security on a border with which they have no concern. I’m waiting.
  • The Independenta British backpacker stands to be freed after serving six years of a ten-year sentence in an Indian jail cell shared with 50 other inmates. His crime? Drug possession. And the best part is that his trial was conducted entirely in Hindi (which  he does not speak) and presented no DNA or fingerprint evidence connecting him to the drugs. It took the guy four years to even get an appeal. The list of conditions he’s picked up in jail: “malaria, dysentery, rat bites, depression, prostatitis and urinary dysfunction.” Another life ruined by the drug war!
  • Der Spiegel: Germany reaches a settlement with the families of Afghan civilians mistakenly killed in a bombing. I find it remarkable that the compensation will be $5000 per family. $5000 goes a long way in Afghanistan, but for us in the West–isn’t it sad that we’ve reached a point at which innocent life is worth only $5000? Do we really want this war tarnishing our souls any longer?
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, Bill Kristol: giving Obama a checklist for reelection. This is one of those, “Oh no…my God, he’s serious!” sort of posts. The checklist Kristol offers: 1. extend tax rates, 2. rescind the Afghanistan withdrawal deadline and 3. oppose the not-really-at Ground Zero mosque. But hey, at least if Obama can get through the next year with that BORING list, Kristol has military action in Iran for him to look forward to. These policies would be bad enough in a vacuum, but it’s like Kristol completely missed the last decade.
  • NYT: Hamid Karzai throws a hissy fit over anti-corruption investigators looking into the dealings of his government cronies. Because that’s what innocent guys who aren’t involved in corruption up to their eyeballs tend to do. But hey, at least it isn’t like American teenagers are dying and dropping bombs on innocent people for the sake of this guy and his dope baron brother. Oh wait….
  • People’s World: article accusing Rand Paul of being a shill for anti-workplace safety coal companies. It’s not very interesting, except for this part: Paul also argued for “local and state” control instead of federal regulation of mining….”The bottom line is I’m not an expert, so don’t give me the power in Washington to be making rules. You live here, and you have to work in the mines.” But miner Tim Miller, a United Mine Workers representative in Madisonville, Ky., saw things differently. “Rand Paul and his deregulation – all he talks about is deregulation and the local authorities having total control over any regulation,” Miller told the Associated Press. “I think that takes us back at least 100 years, back to when 12-year-old kids could work in the coal mines.” Seriously? Rand Paul admitting the limits of his own knowledge and saying that coal regulations probably shouldn’t be made by people in Washington who have never even seen a coal mine rather than local actors who are intimately acquainted with every step of the production process makes him the bad guy? The left can be incredible at times. Here, it is like they are faulting Rand Paul for taking a textbook Hayekian position on information asymmetry rather than being humble enough to defer to the judgment of people who know more than him. Thou art a politician, thou must control!
  • LewRockwell.com: one of those head-scratching articles that keeps LewRockwell.com confined to the fringe, this time railing against a 13-year-old Canadian girl for raising money to boost education for women in Afghanistan. Why publish an article like this one? It’s mainly meanness, and meanness  directed against someone in no position to defend herself. I get the point the author is making against universalist humanitarianism as grist for the mill of “humanitarian” interventionism and imperialism. But using this girl to make your point (along with some low blows against Canada) is stupid. And this is why LewRockwell.com will remain mired where it is.
  • Glenn Greenwald: assessing Elena Kagan. Greenwald would prefer a justice more “progressive” than Kagan, I would prefer more of an originalist, but we can agree that Kagan will be no friend of civil liberties. Greenwald had one quote that I loved: The reality is — and this has long been clear — that Americans have little respect for, and even less interest in, people who stand for nothing and seem afraid of their own belief system.  Clarity of principle and courage of conviction are almost always more politically appealing than muddled incoherence, calibrated careerism, or muted cowardice. Here’s hoping we never see a candidate so artificial, self-censoring and calculating as Kagan again.
  • South China Morning Post: a Western expat calls for the Hong Kong government to compel all licensed taxis to install GPS devices because this loser has trouble communicating with the cabbies in English. “Boo-hoo, I didn’t get where I was going fast enough, you need to put a gun to the head of private business owners so my feelings don’t get hurt again!” Hey guy–if you don’t like the taxis you’re hailing, then stop hailing cabs or book through a higher-end service. If enough people are like you and get tired of the low English capacity, then taxi companies will respond. Until then, take your force-loving whining back to Australia where they could probably use your help in building the internet firewall they want.
  • Matt Welch at Reason: you’d think the government would have learned not to encourage people who can’t afford to own homes to buy them…but you’d have thought wrong. Even after the property bubble, even after we are encouraging Section 8 renters to rent McMansions in foreclosure-capital-of-the-world Las Vegas, these people still haven’t learned. I don’t know if it’s just that home “ownership” is really that much of an entrenched fetish in Washington or that there’s whole federal agencies and close buddies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that would probably be in for significant layoffs if the market scaled back down to where it needs to be and are filled with self-preservation types.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, Jon Chait at the war-loving New Republic: “surely you can’t mean you only support defensive wars!” Chait is smugly shocked and argues that Joe Klein is over-reacting to the Iraq war in saying that we should only fight defensive wars–that is, wars in which we have been attacked first. What an insane standard for making wars! We can’t let our tanks and planes go to waste like that! Bring on the death!
  • NYT: very interesting article on the Italian economy. It’s interesting that much of Italy’s huge public debt is owned by Italians themselves, not foreign creditors. It doesn’t really matter whose passport they are carrying if they all present their notes at once and demand payment, but it is an interesting point that probably help to explain why Italy had fewer problems with credit rating agencies than Greece, Spain or Ireland earlir this year. My favorite quote: “‘Before World War II, Argentina was rich,’ he says. ‘Even in 1960, the country was twice as rich as Italy.’ Today, he says, you can compare the per capita income of Argentina to that of Romania. ‘Because it didn’t grow. A country could get rich in 1900 just by producing corn and meat, but that is not true today. But it took them 100 years to realize they were becoming poor. And that is what worries me about Italy. We’re not going to starve next week. We are just going to decline, slowly, slowly, and I’m not sure what will turn that around.'”
  • St. Petersburg Times: discussing whether Russia’s current policy course leads to a Soviet future for the country. Things you don’t want to miss include a fascistic drug cop who wants Moscow-area clubs to close at midnight because it would help him fight drugs and the revelation that an anti-red tape/corruption measure designed to cap corrupt inspections of businesses put a temporary dent in bureaucratic salaries is just being replaced by fewer inspections with higher payments.
  • Via Publius at the Western Standard, Maclean’s: analyzing Canada’s stimulus. Publius pulls the particularly egregious case of $25 million ferry terminal for a village of 450 people that will admittedly be used for only a few hours per week. This is a big part of why centrally-planned projects like the ever-popular stimulus are doomed to failure–throwing productive dollars at unproductive, politically beneficial programs the market would never support. Publius wants to make the point that Conservative voters aren’t getting a very conservative deal under Harper. Agreed.
  • LewRockwell.com blog: good post highlighting the recent disclosure that this will be the first year Social Security pays out more than it takes in, or the first year that people might be forced to recognize its insolvency.
  • NYT: public sector pensions are bloated and they’re dragging down governments across the country, but at least public sector retirees recognize the problem and are cooperating. Not! The main guy profiled in the piece is a poor, pitiful 62-year-old who toiled away as a public school math teacher for an insufferable 29 (!) years and thinks the Colorado pension reforms could cost him half a million dollars over the rest of his life. Oh, poor you! Money quote:
  • Taxpayers, whose payments are also helping to restock Colorado’s pension fund, may not be as sympathetic, though. The average retiree in the fund stopped working at the sprightly age of 58 and deposits a check for $2,883 each month. Many of them also got a 3.5 percent annual raise, no matter what inflation was, until the rules changed this year.

    Private sector retirees who want their own monthly $2,883 check for life, complete with inflation adjustments, would need an immediate fixed annuity if they don’t have a pension. A 58-year-old male shopping for one from an A-rated insurance company would have to hand over a minimum of $860,000, according to Craig Hemke of Buyapension.com. A woman would need at least $928,000, because of her longer life expectancy.

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Phew, magazine internship app completed just in the nick of time! Wish me luck. Now for the links.

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Via Andrew Sullivan, Firedoglake looks at Sarah Palin’s call for a revisionist Tea Party that would not call for cuts to defense. My favorite part:

I hope nobody thinks that she cares one way or the other about this. But her handlers include some of the neocon establishment, and they must have their precision bombers and their fighter jets and their wars. Really they must have their billable projects for the military industrial complex.

It would be funnier if the stakes were lower. These death-lovers are more worried about preparing the military to permanently occupy Afghanistan and invade Iran than the deficit that really does threaten our future. All this even as Bush-appointed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates talks about his plans to cut defense spending. No way that guy knows what he’s talking about!

I will never forgive John McCain for foisting this woman and her legion of fans upon us.

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