Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hail Caesar

From a constitutional point of view, every single war waged by the United States after World War Two was unconstitutional and therefore illegal. None of them had a proper declaration of war, passed by congress.

The federal government has given itself some cover by issuing various declarations and authorizations that fall short of an actual declaration of war. Additionally the War Powers Act, also unconstitutional, gave the President the authority to wage war without congressional approval if the war was under sixty days in duration.

None of these legalistic covers actually follow the constitution, but at least they have provided a method by which elected officials can assure the public that everything is being done properly.

Even when President Bush lied the country into war with Iraq, he used an Authorization for the Use of Force as his authority to send troops in. But that principle has escaped President Obama.

Obama has added a war with Libya to the long list of wars the United States is involved in. He claimed authority under the unconstitutional War Powers Act to initiate hostilities. And then the sixty day limitation passed, and the war did not end. President Obama still does not seek congressional approval.

And what was the reaction of congress? The House of Representatives passed a resolution rebuking the President, but it failed to halt funding for the Libya War. The one meaningful power the congress retained for itself - funding - is the one power that congress lacks the will to use.

The only thing left is for President Obama to appoint a horse to the Senate. "Hail Caesar" was the cry that brought down the Roman Republic. Will we hear a similar cry with regards to Obama?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Analysis of the June 13th Republican Debate

Sorry this is so late, the outside world is rather hectic right now.

Romney's performance was adequate enough to establish that he's still the front runner. He neither gained nor lost ground, and that technically counts as a victory for him.

The debate organizers left out Johnson. He is a former two term governor, like Pawlenty. They included a former two term governor, a former two term senator, and a congresswoman who has just started her third term and hadn't even officially declared yet - she declared AT the debate. Gary Johnson’s inclusion would have provided a nice counterpoint to Ron Paul as happened in the previous debate, with one arguing theory and the other arguing practicality for the same points.

Gingrich did little to advance himself; he won't last long given that his whole staff just quit. He gave some muddled answers about whether he likes or dislikes the Ryan plan. He's the most hawkish candidate, but that's not a huge achievement since the GOP has mellowed just a little on wars.

Cain is starting to give disturbing answers. He really is in favor of having no Muslims on his cabinet unless he knows for sure they are loyal, but insisted he was misquoted on loyalty tests. Then he said he would restructure Social Security they way it was done in Chile. That's a position many libertarians will not appreciate, since free market libertarians are always given broad-brush blame for what monetarists (not libertarians) did there in cooperation with dictator Pinochet. If he continues that answer will come to haunt him..

Bachmann was a surprise. Given what is commonly said of her by political commentators, a viewer could be excused for expecting guttural grunts as her means of communication. Instead she not only used complete sentences, she seems smarter than Palin with whom she is commonly compared.

On gay rights issues there were two big questions.

First, would the candidate interfere if a state passed a law allowing gay marriage, would the candidate support a constitutional amendment against gay marriage. Some said they would interfere and would support such an amendment. Ron Paul of course said he wouldn't interfere and went even further and said get the government out of marriage.

Second, DADT is going away. Would the candidate overturn the repeal or would the candidate leave it as is. There were several who said they would overturn it. Ron Paul is good with DADT being gone. Two for two, he is better on gay rights than Obama, and that is certain to annoy a few progressives. Bachmann and Pawlenty both came out strongly anti-gay.

Most of the candidates, except Newt and Santorum, have mellowed on the war, making hat tips to Ron Paul on that that. There were also a few hat tips on economic matters such as the bailouts. He is very much the second place candidate against Romney.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Extremists Only

Wendy McElroy had a comment rejected from an NPR article when she made a comment critical of the science behind Anthropogenic Global Warming. Szandor Blestman at Fr33 Agents had someone accuse him of being a creationist when he expressed skepticism towards the extreme claims of Al Gore regarding the environment.

The latter is an example of the "package deal" where unrelated positions are lumped together under the two party label, wherein someone is supposedly forced to choose between civil liberty and economic oppression on the Democrat side, or economic liberty and civil oppression on the Republican side. The Republican side also combines skepticism of AGW with faith in creationism. The Democrat side also combines skepticism of creationism with faith in AGW. That is all part of the package deal where one is supposed to accept both the good and bad points of a position.

But there is more at play than a mere package deal, and that is why Wendy McElroy was censored.

There is a political tactic that, when there is a divisive issue, to pick the most extreme member of the other side and to treat that person as if he was representative of the other side. Take the person who wants taxes the highest and treat him as if he speaks for all who want to raise taxes. Take the person who wishes a violent overthrow of the government and treat him as if he speaks for all who would want to restrain government.

So what happens if a reasonable comment slips through? In the case of Szandor Blestman the reaction is to try to cast someone as more extreme than he really is. Insist that he must be a creationist because of the package deal. It is similiar to when someone objects to government spending, respond by saying discussing how much Bush's wars cost and how he did the bailouts.

When that fails, just ignore the comments, pretend they don't exist, and when possible, censor the comments as what happened to Wendy McElroy. The comment was "held for moderation" and her posting access was for a time suspended. She posted a scientific critique of Anthropogenic Global Warming. Allowing her comment will prevent NPR from pretending only the extremists disagree.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Progressive Feudalists

In Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty, Murray Rothbard makes a good case about how Socialists are actually the middle ground between monarchists and libertarians. He does so by tracing the evolution of the political ideologies from the original French Assembly spectrum (wrongly considered to be the definitive political spectrum) to modern times where the different ideologies are thrown together basically at random until the original leftists are now considered to be on the right with their original opponents and the middle ground between the two is considered to be on the left.

He also neatly ties in progressives and fascists in with the feudalists, demonstrating how they are all superficial variations on each other, through a combination of direct ownership of the means of production, government and corporate mergers, and the regulatory state.

Progressivism has finally reached its final conclusion and become indistinguishable from the more extreme members of its family. Under President Bush and President Obama it has come to mean absolute power in the government and endless war, both for the sake of the ruling class. The rhetoric about having an omnipotent government for the sake of the people is rapidly fading away. First President Bush dropped any pretense about how "conservatives" favor any lessened role for the government in the lives of the people through the creation of the Transportation Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, and the passage of the USAPATRIOT Act, No Child Left Behind, S-CHIP, Prescriptions Drug Coverage for Seniors, and capping it off with the first round of Bailouts and Stimulus. Then President Obama dropped any pretense of how "progressives" favor any sort of civil liberty or commonality with the common man by continuing the bailout of Wall Street, expanding the War on Terror to include directed assassinations without a court order, expanding the War on Terror to include congress having no role at all, and passing a version of healthcare reform that as none of the goals that Democrats have clamored for years over such as Single Payer or other versions of socialized medicine, while also failing to move on any gay rights issues and expanding the Drug War.

Based on all of that, it is clear that Progressive now means an absolute authoritarian state with no concern for the people governed. It can still be debated if the US is a free country or a dictatorship, but there is no debate left that the leadership certainly has no regard for freedom and only has concern for their own power, and a willingness to shed as much of other peoples blood may be necessary to hold and increase that power. They have returned to their original root, described by Rothbard, as feudalists, the original enemy of libertarians.

It is time for liberals to abandon their “progressive” brothers if they want to reclaim what is left of their original identity as holding their ideology for the sake of improving the world and not just themselves. It is time for liberals to decide which way they want to go, it is time to choose between government and freedom, they cannot have both and they can no longer pretend that they can have both. It is also time for liberals to stop consider the term "liberal" and the term "progressive" to be interchangeable.