Posted in American politics, tagged Bob Brady, Fairness Doctrine, Fred Phelps, free speech, gun control, Jared Lee Loughner, Jared Loughner, Port Arthur massacre, Sarah Palin, State of the Union address, Tea Party, Tucson, violent rhetoric, Westboro Baptist Church on 01/14/2011|
2 Comments »
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.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Opinion, tagged Albert Jay Nock, anarchism, anarcho-capitalism, How to Slash the State, Leo Tolstoy, Ludwig von Mises, Lysander Spooner, market anarchism, minarchism, Murray Rothbard, Reason magazine, Tea Party, voluntaryism on 10/06/2010|
1 Comment »
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.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Opinion, tagged Barney Frank, Bill Kristol, defense budget, defense contractors, defense force, Democrats, Dennis Kucinich, military-industrial complex, military-industrial state, Osama bin Laden, peace, Republicans, Ron Paul, Soviet Union, Tea Party on 10/06/2010|
2 Comments »
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.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Miscellany, tagged Ahmed Wali Karzai, Asbo, austerity, Baghlan, Barack Obama, China, civil liberties, David Cameron, Department of Defense, George Osborne, Hamid Karzai, Home Secretary, human trafficking, intelligence community, internet gambling, IRS, Labour, Liam Fox, Pakistan, Patriot Act, pollution, prostitution, Richard Holbrooke, Russia, Tea Party, Thailand, Trident, Youtube on 07/30/2010|
Leave a Comment »
Phew, magazine internship app completed just in the nick of time! Wish me luck. Now for the links.
- The Independent: British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne tells the Defense Secretary to cut out the public whining over budget cuts. And Osborne’s a Tory. Now imagine any politician in the U.S., Republican or Democrat, telling the Department of Defense or the many agencies of the intelligence community to stop their politicized whining about budget cuts. It’s hard to imagine. Although I guess things are a bit different here because in America, the Secretary of Defense doesn’t have to beg for funding because he has a galaxy of congressmen fighting with each other to see who can simultaneously raise defense spending the most and defame anyone who wants to keep it level or cut it as a traitor the loudest. The burdens of empire…
- The Independent: in another good bit of news for the coalition, the Home Secretary announced plans to scrap the infamous anti-social behavior orders (Asbos) phased in at the height of tough-on-crime Labourism. I don’t think Labour even created Asbos in good faith–I think it was a quick and easy way for them to put more Labour-voting bureaucrats on the government payroll whilst looking tough on crime. Human rights and privacy are so 19th century! I also think we should realize that rather than feeling safe behind “tough on crime” candidates, we should run from them as fast as we can because they are just calculating scumbags who are willing to make the criminal justice system unfairer and more punitive than it needs to be so they can offset their weakness in some other part of their agenda.
- Afghanistan mega-linker: NYT covers the formerly-quiet Baghlan province, which is now overrun by Talibs. This is what happens when you try to garrison a rugged country like Afghanistan with just enough troops to keep the people at home from thinking about the war too much–counterinsurgency becomes a game of whack-a-mole. Also in the NYT, top U.S. political man in Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke tells Congress that far and away the top recruiting point for the Taliban is not morality police stuff but corruption. And yet American teenagers are dying on behalf of the election-stealing mayor of Kabul president and his dope baron half-brother. Clearly corruption is a top concern for us. Oh, and the Taliban’s anti-corruption program? It’s nothing new. It’s what brought them to power the first time, too. And in a sign that we’ve learned absolutely nothing, the WaPo (HT) reports that we are pinning our hopes in the Kandahar countryside on a corrupt drug baron. But hey, at least he has a cool back story and does all the right man’s man stuff. If that wasn’t enough bad news for you, Pat Buchanan recaps a lot of it in his most recent column and reminds us that the neocons are so tired of failure in two wars so far that they’re just itching to start a new one in Iran.
- NYT: from the department of right solution, wrong reason, Congress is considering overturning its ridiculous internet gambling ban. It isn’t because they suddenly realized they were violating the non-aggression principle and using force to keep consenting adults from engaging in free commercial transactions. That would be too extreme! It’s because the government hates competition and lost opportunities for revenue, so seeing money go offshore makes them hungry. They project taxing the industry could generate $42 billion in the next decade. What a bunch of sick puppies. I hope that if Congress legalizes internet gambling and brings in the IRS, we suddenly see a rash of Online Gamblers Anonymous chapters across the country. That might teach them a lesson in principle.
- Moscow Times: a Russian court bans YouTube for extremist content. Talk about burning down the barn to kill the rats. You also wonder how much this is about racism and Islamism versus how much it’s about people not needing to rely on the extremely unlikely chance of the state media covering any criticism of the government.
- South China Morning Post: sad report on human trafficking. Most of the article focuses on Thailand. I don’t have a problem with prostitution, but if you’re a Westerner who goes to Thailand for the hookers, you need to look at yourself and admit that you’re probably a pedophile, a willing supporter of human trafficking or some combination of both.
- Kelley Vlahos at The American Conservative: uses a WaPo piece about the Obama administration asking for more e-snooping powers for the FBI to make the point that Obama has been a disaster on civil liberties, in some ways even worse than Bush. And though she doesn’t say it, I get the sense that Vlahos is like me and a lot of other libertarians and old right-type people who maybe didn’t vote for Obama but at least favored him over “Bomb Bomb Iran” McCain for the “hope” he offered on peace, civil liberties and executive powers. That hope is now trampled into dust.
- Andrew Sullivan: making the case that a GOP this hopped up on Tea Party slogans and having spent far too little “time in the wilderness” could be even worse than the Dems for America’s fiscal future this fall. What cuts are they going to make? We know they aren’t going to end the wars. We know they won’t cut defense spending. We know they opposed Obamacare from the left by arguing that it made too many cuts to Medicare. As a collection of ideas, there’s more that I can sympathize with from the Republican platform than the Democratic one, but I think Andrew is right on this issue.
- From the Guardian, via Andrew Sullivan: David Cameron must still be too new to the world stage since he’s still telling the truth. First it was calling Gaza a “prison camp,” now it’s admitting that Pakistan exports terror. That Pakistan has not only been allowed to get away with its bad behavior but in fact has it subsidized extravagantly by Western governments is incredible.
- NYT: remember how China was supposed to have turned over a new environmental leaf just in time for the Beijing Olympics? Sorry Thomas Friedman, that narrative is dead. Pollution is getting worse.
- NYT: French woman accused of murdering eight of her own infants over a two-decade span and burying them in her yard. Why? “She explained that she didn’t want any more children and that she did not want to see a doctor about using contraception,” Mr. Vaillant said. Who needs to endure the shame of asking for birth control pills when you can smother your own innocent offspring and bury them in the garden? This is one of the most repulsive crimes I’ve encountered in a while.
Read Full Post »
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.
Read Full Post »