Friday, October 31, 2008

Conspiracy Theory and its Discontents

In 2006 the Reform Caucus radically watered down the LP platform. In 2008 the Reform Caucus pushed forward Bob Barr and Wayne Root as the nominees. Due to these two efforts it is now difficult to distinguish the Libertarian Party from a watered down Republican Party. The Drug War is perhaps the only area of clear difference, as the War Caucus (misnamed as the Defense Caucus) insists that it is wrong to list being against wars of aggression as a libertarian value.

In 2008 Alan Keyes also attempted to gain the nomination of the Constitution Party, but succeeded only in getting their ballot line in the state of California. Being the most populous state that ballot line is crucial to any party that seeks to grow large enough to be considered a major party someday, and the vote is split between Keyes and the actual Constitution Party nominee. In 2000 Patrick Buchanan sought and won the nomination of the Reform Party, and that party has since disappeared.

It would not be far fetched to suggest that the Republican Party has been cynically manipulating third parties for their personal gain. It would not be far fetched to suggest that Buchanan, Keyes, and Barr are all Republican Party plants to either neutralize or destroy third parties that are perceived as threats. It’s not a secret that Republicans have also donated to Ralph Nader and the Green Party in order to bolster threats to the Republican Party.

The problem with saying that that is the case is that there is insufficient proof. Every bit of evidence is circumstantial. None of it proves an actual policy on the part of Republicans or the Republican Party.

That’s the problem with conspiracy theory. It’s obvious who would benefit if there is a conspiracy of this sort. What is missing is any actual proof.

In all attempts to participate in the political process, roadblocks are placed in the way of anyone outside of the party machinery to get anything done. These roadblocks are said to be there to regulate what is done, not to prevent people from acting. They do, in fact, prevent people from acting. If two people get together to make signs against a ballot proposition, they are in fact an unregistered political action committee and their signs therefore do not contain the appropriate legal notices of the committee that put them up, and therefore those two individuals could be subjected to thousands of dollars of fines for violating campaign finance laws.

The authors of those laws claim that the purpose of those laws is to regulate the process, not to exclude. In no public statement have they said otherwise. Therefore to suggest otherwise is to engage in conspiracy theory, since actual proof is lacking. It’s obvious by effect what these laws do, but one cannot prove that the effect is the desired effect of the law.

The First Brigade has been deployed to the United States. The major media doesn’t cover it, much as major media doesn’t cover third parties and the major media doesn’t cover non-mainstream candidates from the major parties. All four of the Campaign for Liberty candidates aren’t covered (Barr is one of them whether he admits so or not) just as the founder of the CfL wasn’t covered when he was a candidate for a major party. Some suggest they aren’t newsworthy, because that is the non-conspiracy viewpoint. It can be shown that they are newsworthy but still not covered. To suggest there’s a deliberate effort to exclude these stories is to engage in conspiracy theory as there is no actual proof, only circumstantial evidence.

Is there a police state coming in the United States? The expanded police powers of the USAPATRIOT Act, the Protect America Act, and similar laws, coupled with the domestic deployment of the First Brigade suggest as much, but since nobody in any official position of power has come out and said "yes, we are planning on a police state" the position that there may very well be a police state coming is not considered a credible position and is considered instead to be conspiracy theory in spite of the circumstantial evidence.

The problem with asserting these as true is that there is no proof that it is true. The problem with asserting these as false is that the circumstantial evidence all points the other way. The problem with dismissing these as conspiracy theory is that just because something is a conspiracy theory doesn’t mean that it is false, only that it is unproven.

If there are these conspiracies, then the labeling of anyone who investigates them as a “conspiracy theorist” and then to have anyone with that label considered mentally unbalanced would be their biggest triumph. Anyone who looks for anything beyond what the media reports is therefore unbalanced.

To be fair, many conspiracy theorists brought this on themselves because faced with circumstantial evidence but no proof too many have declared that to be sufficient and declared their theory to be true. Having found who benefits they decide that the same are the initiators of the conspiracy itself.

Also the question needs to be asked of those who harp on insufficient proof if they actually expect those who would be the conpirators to confiess to what they are planning? If there is a plan in the Republican Party to nullify third parties (or take them over) would Republican leaders admit to this? If there is a plan for a police state, would politicans admit to this? If there is a conspiracy to black out certain candidates and parties from the media, would the media cover it?

The rational and skeptical point of view is that there may be truth to these conspiracies, that they should not be dismissed out of hand, but not proclaimed true until further proof is forthcoming. Those who benefit from these measures should be treated with suspicion instead of being treated as guilty (as the theorists do) or as innocent (as the critics do). Those who are interested should work to find proof or disproof, using qui bono and circumstantial evidence as a starting point.

On a final note, is it possible that Republicans, anticipating the demise of their own party, degraded the Libertarian Party platform in 2006 and alienated the "purists" in 2008 so that the LP could be a replacement of their own party in 2012?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Arizona Proposition 105

Innovative ways to restrain the state are always interesting and always a good idea, provided that they actually do restrain the state. Proposition 13 of California was such a one, restricting the ability of governments in California from raising the property taxes.

Arizona is set to vote on another way of restraining the state by restraining taxation, Proposition 105.

The proposition requires that any tax increase, in order to pass, gain a true majority in the polls. A true majority is a majority of all registered voters, not just those that show up to the polls.

This means that unless a majority of the voters show up at all, tax increases will fail. This means that if a majority does show up, and a majority of that majority votes for the tax increase, it does not mean it will pass because 50% of 50% is 25%, which is a minority of the voters.

Critics of this measure decry this as a way to count the votes of those who did not vote, because there is truth to the argument that any absent vote counts against the measure. The argument is that the state is unable to determine the true intent of those who do not vote, and therefore should not be able to count them in favor or against any tax increase.

The critics acknowledge that raising taxes via ballot initiatives, a popular method among state legislatures that do not want to take responsibility for tax increases, will be much harder.

And that is good. That is why 105 should pass.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Issues Designed to Divide

In California there is a proposition on the ballot of very little importance. It is the one receiving the most media attention and has passions running the highest. Proposition 8 is about gay marriage.

There are two aspects to the gay marriage debate. The first is whether or not homosexual couples should have the same legal rights in their unions as heterosexual couples do in their unions. The second is whether or not these unions can be called "marriages." The first touches on libertarian issues, in an oblique way. The second is utterly irrelevant.

The libertarian take on the first question is that government should not be in the marriage business in the first place. The debate in the public arena is whether the government’s involvement should be to recognize or not recognize with government approval and government licensing the gay union. Libertarians who take a stand on this question will often come down on "if the have to be involved, they should at least treat everyone equally" which is a fair position.

There is absolutely no libertarian take on the second question. It is designed to keep the public debating a completely irrelevant point. It doesn't matter if congress just is busy incrementally voting in a police state if everyone is debating whether or not homosexual unions can be called "marriage". It doesn’t matter which direction the question is settled, the fact that everyone is debating the question is sufficient to keep people from questioning other issues.

If everyone is debating whether or not McCain looked Obama directly in the eyes during the debate, nobody is noticing that they didn't disagree on any basic issues.

If everyone is debating whether or not ACORN submitted phony voter registrations (or had infiltrators submit them) they do not see the bigger voter fraud picture of Ballot Access Laws, Campaign Finance Laws, and Safe Districts.

Distractions are the method of modern politics. Many are distracted by the tabloids. For those who actually think politics is important, there are distraction issues to deal with them.

Friday, October 10, 2008

George W. Bush is Herbert Hoover

George W. Bush is very much like Herbert Hoover, but not in the way most people understand that statement.

Herbert Hoover was, contrary to the myths, a very economically activist president. When the Great Recession started, he worked tirelessly to try to bail out the failing banks. He started many of the programs that eventually became part of FDR's "New Deal". In doing so he made the Great Recession worse, and since his programs were those of the New Deal, he started the Great Depression. As a result he lost his party the office of the Presidency for decades. The other party (in the person of FDR) gained power and formally instituted the New Deal.

Some of the blame Bush is getting is for allegedly being too free market, allowing the market to proceed unchecked. Allegedly his disbelief in government caused him to deregulate the banking industry, even though there is no truth to that belief.

It should be noted that the Republican Party does not believe in deregulation. The Republican Party believes in regulation, just to the benefit of a different group than the Democratic Party does. Both of them have faith in the government; they just have different faiths from each other. Libertarians are the ones without faith in the government. The Democrats seem confused on the issue of this faith, mistaking heresy for disbelief, but the truth is that compared to the Democrats the Republicans are heretics of big government instead of atheists of big government. Even then few regulations were removed or changed.

The free market got the blame in 1929 for the inflation of the Federal Reserve and the failure of the market interventions of Hoover. The free market is getting the blame in 2008 for the inflation of the Federal Reserve and the failure of the market interventions of Bush.

Bush is in the process of losing his party control of the Presidency, and will be handing the office over to Barack Obama, who will bring us a New Deal to try to solve the economic woes of the United States, completing the cycle and bringing a new Great Depression out of Bush’s Great Recession.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Party Divide in the Bailout

Now that the bank bailout has been passed it should be obvious to everyone that there are no real differences between the two primary political parties of the United States. Both the presidential candidates voted in favor of the bailout both the times it was presented to the Senate. The voting was not divided along Republican versus Democrat lines. The voting was divided along rank-and-file versus maverick lines.

Those who are not highly regarded by their own parties did not heed the call to vote for the bailout, opting to represent regular Americans instead of their parties and the special interests that control them. These are the Representatives and Senators who seldom get committee assignments and are seldom invited to speak at conventions or other party events.

Those who voted for the bailout represent the mainstreams of both parties, those that follow the line of the party leadership. These are the Representatives and Senators who always get the spotlight and they chose to represent Wall Street instead of Main Street as directed by their financial backers.

The divide isn’t between the parties, it's within the parties. It isn't between Obama and McCain, it is between Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich on one side and John McCain and Barack Obama on the other.

This was part of the message of the Campaign for Liberty. The parties do not represent the American People, and have not for a very long time. The only politicians who might actually and truly represent the people is if the people vote third party. Of the four that should have been there it is certain that at least one of them would have been an optimal candidate for any American who isn't dedicated to party first and foremost.

The optimal solution is for the maverics of both parties to join the Campaign for Liberty. That is not likely but it would be best for the United States.