The Lefty Libertarian
Political commentary from an askew angle.
The Usual Suspects!
The Road to Surfdom
Hot Buttered Death
New World Disorder
Find the rest of us[g]
A Little Right
The Kolkata Libertarian
End The War On Freedom
Tara Sue for Congress!
And all the rest.[g]
A Little Left
Radio Free Albemuth
Way, Way Left[g]
The Aardvark Speaks
Saturday, September 28, 2002
WELCOME TO THE POLICE STATE. Not that this is really any more dramatic than half a dozen other things, but it's really, really clear: NYPD want more freedom to monitor domestic dissidents.
I was arguing with a bunch of right wing, pro-war types on another blog about Jose Padilla, whom the ACLU want tried openly. I tried to explain to these goons that, as far as the current law is concerned, George Bush could declare Al Gore an enemy combatant, lock him up on the spot, and never allow him to talk to another human being again. No appeal, no questioning of evidence, nothing. He'd be gone, for ever, and it would all be completely "legal", constitution void where prohibited by law. Where, in this instance, Al Gore is "everyman" and anybody.
These bozos did not know enough to be afraid of a government which claims that sort of power over it's citizens and that makes me afraid. With that kind of blind trust in government and in Resident Bush, we're half way to disaster already.
Al Jazeera says one of thier reporters is being held at Guantanamo bay. Let's assume this is true for a moment. This poor guy is being held indefinitely, and there have been strong hints from the administration that prisoners being held there are never going to see the light of day again.
Sucks to be that reporter.
Ah well, it's only civil liberties, right?
PAYBACKS: How the Bush Administration is Giving Away Our Environment to Corporate Contributors. A completly amazing, completely damming document.
“The biggest challenge is going to be how to best utilize taxpayer dollars to the benefit of industry…”— Mike Smith, Bush administration Assistant Secretary for Fossil Fuels at the U.S. Department of Energy
Universal Basic Income offers an interesting approach to free market socialism. Tax everybody and share the loot equally - no government programs, just give people money and let them figure out how to spend it.
Interestingly, I think that this approach gives almost all of the practical benefits of Libertarianism (i.e. reduce the state to something manageable) with almost none of the theoretical baggage or BS about absolute (nay, infinite) property rights.
The $30,000 Solution gives a practical approach: redistribution of unearned income to give everybody a basic income - of $30,000. Seriously: all of the interest etc. just gets redistributed, but your earnings you can keep.
Geonomists get to the same conclusion, but by a different mechanism: that everybody has equal rights to the bounty of the land which we share as a nation.
Who's against the welfare state? - very interesting read about political movements against the welfare state in Canada.
Social welfare is a hard problem. Redistributory taxation may be a necessity of a stable, well run society: without it, there may simply be too many social problems for society as a whole to function smoothly - problems which charity may not address. That's too long and complicated to go into this evening, but I really think that Universal Basic Income may have the right balance of Left Idealism and Libertarian Realism.
Or perhaps the other way round.
George Bush's Secret Society - The Skull and Bones (Atlantic Monthly). The author's book is quite a lot more controversial:
The society anoints the initiate with a new name, symbolizing his rebirth and rechristening as Knight X, a member of the Order. It is during this initiation that the new members are introduced to the artifacts in the tomb, among them Nazi memorabilia--including a set of Hitler's silverware-dozens of skulls, and an assortment of decorative tchotchkes: coffins, skeletons, and innards.via Dr Menlo, who also explains the Bush Family Nazi Connection.
Friday, September 27, 2002
I don't know whether to love this guy or hate him, but he's a great writer and funny as hell. Kim du Toit is well worth a read.
Ashcroft’s Baghdad Connection - Why the attorney general and others in Washington have backed a terror group with ties to Iraq
Scott Ritter - What turned the hawkish Iraq weapons inspector into a dove? By Michael Crowley. Worth a look, raises intelligent questions about Ritter's change of position on Iraq.
I posted a while back about the notion that a good analysis of a political system is identifying the very most childish impuse which can give rise to it. Turns out there might be more to that idea than I though!.
Israel is dependent on America for financial and military support. That means that having the US public decide that they don't like Israel's policies on, for example, Palestine/ians, could be very, very dangerous. This is why we see things like this report on Campus Watch, an organization which tries to brand everybody who wants the situation in Israel changed as an anti-semite.
There is not enough debate on Israel. I, personally, think that comparisons between Israel and South Africa are quite charitable. I am not, in any way, shape, or form an anti-semite; more than half of my closest friends are Jewish, and a lot of them aren't any too comfortable about the shenanigans of the Israeli government and to a lesser extent the Israeli people. But the Israeli situation is out of hand, and if we really want peace, we should be pressuing the Israelis and the Palestinians into a two-state solution.
'Even if Iraq managed to hide these weapons, what they are now hiding is harmless goo'. Scott Ritter in the Guardian. Pretty much chapter and verse on is position and credientials (basically, he was a weapons inspector and he says the Iraqis got nothin'). Not everybody agrees that he's a worthy source, but he seems like somebody who should be refuted with evidence, not with assertions. If we know that Iraq is a danger, we should be shown the goods, not blustered upon as we were by Blair's Iraq Report.
Dahlia Lithwick at Slate on Ashcroft and the Second Amendment. I'm all in favor of gun ownership, but I do agree with her point..... he just pulled this one out of his ass. God knows what else he has up there!
Thursday, September 26, 2002
This is the full text of an open letter from the edfitors of The Nation. This is important enough to quote whole. Sorry for the length. Good discussions here at Metafilter. Now, this is a stupid link, but read it The White Rose. Germans who protested Hitler. Here's what I'm saying: listen to the tone of voice in the first couple of White Rose pamphlets. Now read the open letter. Listen to the tone of voice.
These editors of The Nation are smart, informed, and very, very afraid. They think we have lost control of the government, and they are right. This affects you and me personally. Figure out what you can do if Bush becomes another Hitler. Remember that technology is much advanced from Hitler's time and that the resources of the American government are nearly infinite. Decide, if it comes to it, will you submit or resist?
This is not a joke. Fascism is real and it happens to the best of nations. Do you think Russians were somehow subhuman when Stalin came to power, or the Germans when Hitler rose? No: people like you and me backed people like Hitler and Stalin, either by action or inaction. There is no American magic to protect us - even our lauded Constution is valueless if unenforced.
This is not an idle speculation: we may be in our own 1933, or perhaps our own 1937, or god forbid our own 1939. Who knows who will be the slaughtered this time: perhaps Arabs, or Muslims, or all Foreigners and non-Citizens. Given the Christian Right leanings of the President, perhaps the Jews and the Gays again.
Perhaps you, perhaps me. Perhaps they'll just stick RFID tags in all of our arms and take our genetic fingerprints for security purposes.
We'll never know if Hitler could have been defeated had the German people resisted the rise of Hitler by every Constitutional and just means. We do know that had the 11 million Hitler exterminated been armed, it would have been a civil war rather than a simple massacre. Awaken to the crisis of your times, America. Read this and understand: they are talking about your country here, not somewhere else. This is us: we are the Empire they speak of below.
The editors of The Nation present "An Open Letter to Congress"
Soon, you will be asked to vote on a resolution authorizing the United States to overthrow the government of Iraq by military force. Its passage, we read on all sides, is a foregone conclusion, as if what the country now faces is not a decision but the disclosure of a fate. The nation marches as if in a trance to war. In the House, twenty of your number, led by Dennis Kucinich, have announced their opposition to the war. In the Senate, Robert Byrd has mounted a campaign against the version of the resolution already proposed by the Bush Administration. He has said that the resolution's unconstitutionality will prevent him from voting for it. "But I am finding," he adds, "that the Constitution is irrelevant to people of this Administration." The Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to the Washington Post, oppose the war. Telephone calls and the mail to your offices run strongly against it. Polls and news stories reveal a divided and uncertain public. Yet debate in your chambers is restricted to peripheral questions, such as the timing of the vote, or the resolution's precise scope. You are a deliberative body, but you do not deliberate. You are representatives, but you do not represent.
Humberto Fontova on free trade and diversity. Well written and very funny. I don't agree, but he's got some beauties!
But forget those quacks. Let's take business advice from a guy who really raked it in, who piled up more than all these clowns combined, honestly, and with all the odds against him. I refer, of course, to Keith Richards, who revealed his business secret with perfect lucidity and economy while discussing the immensely profitable (tour receipts: $550,000,000) Budweiser endorsement of the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels Tour. "We were sure we'd shafted the Budweiser people," he drawled to Rolling Stone magazine in 1990.
John Perry Barlow: from the Dead to the EFF, he's doing great work. Today's fair from Forbes: Barlow on our intelligence services, on the non-persuit of happiness and on the nature of the electronic experience. Smart man. I'd elect him, if he'd run.
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Us and the romans.. Sample of the goods:
Codchef: "closes his eyes and tries to picture the senate getting together and stabbing the president to death".
Those were different times......
Focus on war was a key point in a talk that centered on the White House's desire to, quote, "maintain a positive issue environment." Around this time, Rove was criticized for telling a Republican group that the war and terror themes could play to the GOP's advantage in the November elections. Not long after, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card was asked why the administration waited until after Labor Day to try to sell the American people on military action against Iraq. Card replied, From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August.Tom Daschle has some choice words on the topic. At last, the democrats find their voice. I was beginning to think that the cat had their tongue.
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Ok, time to bite the bullet. What the fuck is a lefty libertarian?
I've been pondering this for days, trying to figure out how to explain it, ever since I stepped out on the limb and named the blog. Now people are beginning to ask me.
Here's what it boils down to: the cult of selfishness which has invaded libertarian thought from Ayn Rand is complete bullshit. I stopped being a socialist when I was politely informed "socialism requires a central government with arbitrary powers": I just don't trust government that much. But I still believe that we, as a society, should choose to adopt governing rules which ensure the greatest good for the greatest number.
I believe that, because of the massive, horrible problems which every strong, centralized government eventually drives it's people into (war being the primary one, with corruption a close and allied second), the libertarian approach of "tiny government, strong people" is the way to go.
I also believe that the libertarian stance on property rights: that they are absolute - is bullshit. I haven't done enough thinking on this to be able to prove to my own satisifaction that I'm right about that, but the stink is unmistakable. I'll figure out why eventually and I hope the proof is short and cogent enough to get some attention.
The "real" left libertarians are the Libertarian Socialists, who're basically anarcho-syndicalists or some form of communists. Very big on workers collectives and stuff like that. No reason workers can't form collectives, but I wouldn't like to think of that as the basic institution of a new state. What the hell are these people thinking? Anyway, I'm not in favor of the basic attitude of the Libertarian Socialists - they are too prescritive for my taste. I want to prune away much of the government and return that power to the people, that they as a whole may be happier, rather than telling them to damn well act free.
The essence of the Lefty Libertarian credo is this: Libertarianism not because it's in some way closer to "natural rights", but because it is probably better for everybody. Libertarianism motivated by the desire for the people, as a whole, to be happy as, just as socialists or communists want the people as a whole to be happy, but wise to the problems which have often made socialism into an unholy nightmare when put into practice. Libertarianism via humanism, basically, rather than libertarianism via selfishness.
Does that make any sense to you? A libertarianism formed around a desire for human welfare rather than the cult of the individual? That is what I want.
So, in essence, if I thought that socialism could work, I'd be a socialist. I don't believe it can because of the problems implicit in the way power is handled inside the socialist construct. Anarchism, to my eye, has no effective defense against capitalism - free people will choose to trade and can accumulate wealth, state or no state. So we may as well accept that capitalism will arise inside of an anarchist system, which basically leaves Libertarianism - anarchism plus some government and a common law framework. [note: many people have misunderstood me to be against trade and profit! Far from it - I am simply arguing that they are inevitable in a free society.]
Is that unreasonable? I don't know. Defending common law really pokes anarcho-capitalists right in the eye, and I'm fine with that.
I'd really like your feedback here.
We're in times of dire political crisis. Our American government is rotten to the core and we need alternative political movements to suggest ways to heal our national disease: an unaccountable government persuing corporate goals for the profit of a few individuals, treating the workers and citizens of this country as a resource and the citizens of the world as a target and a problem to be solved by force.
I salute the work done by the New Left: sending a clear message to the WTO and their corporate masters that their way is unacceptable to the people of this nation was brilliant, as is their work on defense of the environment. But I cannot in all good conscience support their longer term goals because I believe that socialism can collapse into fascism very quickly and easilly.
So instead I choose to labor on the New Right: to try and derive a political vision based on a basic desire for the welfare of all, wise to history and compatible with reason without the failings of the left but informed by it's insight. To take the suffering caused by poverty seriously, but to take the suffering caused by despotism and dictatorship (even of the proletariat!) even more seriously.
I don't know what that political philosophy might really be called, so that will have to do for now.
Give me some feedback: write! The link is on the top left near the nav.
All the best,
The Wall Street Journal on Independent Coffee vs. Starbucks. Turns out the independents are doing fine. Makes me wonder what other goods or services could be provided by this "leaderless franchise" model.
Another example is the chinese resturant. There are probably as many chinese resturants as there are Wendys and close-on as many as McDonands. They're a brand, hugely successful, but without any centralized control or leadership. Branches share brand just like a corporation and have most of the same economies of scale via specialized service companies. What they don't have is the Iron Grip of the Brand Controller which stifles all innovation and change.
This phenomena of decentralized brands has, I think, got a lot to say about both democracy and business: this notion of collective success produced by uniformity (i.e. you know you can get Orange Beef in almost any chinese resturant, or an Iced Mocha in almost any corner coffee shop - a successful brand exists) but with room for individual creativity and self-expression really seems to capture something good.
I think that, in some ways, this is what a federalist wanted America to be like. The Corner Coffee Shop, rather than Endless Starbucks. A basically agreed-upon set of rules, with many regional variations according to taste.
We've lost a lot of strength in that diversity by having an over-uniform Federal Government which has blunted the state's ability to represent the charactaristics of their people. Let South Dakota have Jury Nullification, and California have Medical Marijuana. The union will not dissolve, but grow stronger.
It is not a brittle thing and should not be treated as such.
We can finally see the British Report on the War on Iraq. Bottom line? It's unimpressive. Nothing unexpected, no surprises. Makes you wonder what all the fuss is about. Perhaps it's the OIL.
Energy company witheld capacity from California during the crisis for megabux. Expect californian retaliation!
Monday, September 23, 2002
I don't like Al Gore. Just something about the guy - not even his politics just him as a person. But respect where respect is due.
The very idea that an American citizen can be imprisoned without recourse to judicial process or remedy, and that this can be done on the sole say-so of the president of the United States or those acting in his name, is beyond the pail and un-American. And it ought to be stopped.
Unequal Protection - a book on the history and rise to power of limited liability companies.
FWIW, I think limited liability was a big mistake, and one of the key pillars of libertarianism I'm all for is that there is NO LIMITED LIABILITY. Corporations do not exist, only partnerships. I wish people would stop prattling on about libertarianism / anarchocapitalism being all about corporations ruling the earth.
It's not. First thing we do is put them all do death by converting the to full liability partnerships. Granting limited liability is the government making another entity, a corporation, immune to basic natural rights: share profit, share loss.
As Nader says, corporations have tried to create a "privitization of profit and socialization of loss". Not on our dime. You take a share of the profits, you go down with the ship if they fuck up, go bankrupt or get sued into oblivion. That's fair, right?
Personally, I think that's the best way of getting corporate power back where it belongs.
Oh shit. Not good, not good at all. Mossad is a very, very fearsome organization and smallpox vaccine is not entirely safe: people (about six in a million) die and many more get significantly sick from it's administration.
This was not done lightly: one would have to believe that the Israelis now believe there is a credible smallpox threat. I'd like to post some preparedness stuff on smallpox, but frankly I think I sound like enough of a loon already. If you want that stuff on here, email me and I'll post some links.
By the way, that's what REAL civil defense against biological warfare looks like: masks, vaccinations and training.
Our government is doing none of that, yet we're attacking Iraq because they represent a credible threat. You tell me what the fuck that is about.
What's Behind the Magic Trick of War?
Back in 1983, before its publisher was acquired by a multinational corporation, the American Heritage Dictionary left us this definition of the form of government the democracies of Spain, Italy, and Germany had morphed into during the 1930s: “fas-cism (fâsh'iz'em) n. A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism. [Ital. fascio, group.]”Important article. I said I'd write something here today about practical action, and I didn't. It's just too damn hard to get the thoughts down coherently, to try and sketch out strategies of freedom in the face of this kind of bullshit. I'm going to keep trying.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Military Industrial Complex speech
"This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
Just putting this up on the blog so I can find it again later.
Overview of Changes to Legal Rights
By The Associated Press
September 5, 2002, 11:44 AM EDT
Some of the fundamental changes to Americans' legal rights by the Bush administration and the USA Patriot Act following the terror attacks:
* FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION: Government may monitor religious and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity to assist terror investigation.
* FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Government has closed once-public immigration hearings, has secretly detained hundreds of people without charges, and has encouraged bureaucrats to resist public records requests.
* FREEDOM OF SPEECH: Government may prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone that the government subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation.
* RIGHT TO LEGAL REPRESENTATION: Government may monitor federal prison jailhouse conversations between attorneys and clients, and deny lawyers to Americans accused of crimes.
* FREEDOM FROM UNREASONABLE SEARCHES: Government may search and seize Americans' papers and effects without probable cause to assist terror investigation.
* RIGHT TO A SPEEDY AND PUBLIC TRIAL: Government may jail Americans indefinitely without a trial.
* RIGHT TO LIBERTY: Americans may be jailed without being charged or being able to confront witnesses against them.
Copyright © 2002, The Associated Press
Finally: Center for Disease Control releases smallpox vaccination plans.
This is good. It's absurd that a year after we saw anthrax used to kill people on US soil we still don't have comprehensive biowar preparations in place, but it's a start.
Jurors should acquit, even against the judge's instruction...if exercising their judgement with discretion and honesty they have a clear conviction the charge of the court is wrong.Jury Nullification is the notion that a jury may put the law on trial: if somebody is being tried for a crime which the jury believes is unjust, they may aquit the defendent on the basis that the law is wrong.
South Dakota is voting on an initiative which would make Jury Nullification an explicit right.
I think that's pretty damn cool! It's one of the few areas where we might see an increase, rather than a decrease in civil liberties.
The case for fear (and action) made clear: "What's Next...Concentration Camps?" by Anis Shivani.
Two things above all are necessary to complete the genocidal state. The national ID card, which will be unlike anything anyone's ever seen or dreamed of.
Again, a little more exteme than my own views, but I think you've got to admit that good points are being made here. I don't believe in anything like the inevitability of these outcomes, but we must act and act now to safeguard our liberties against an untrustworthy government.
Good morning, everybody! How are you all doing?
It's going to be a busy blog day, so check back soon for updates.
Sunday, September 22, 2002
Jews for the Protection of Firearms Ownership have a feature called Unpopular Speech. Now this is hardcore stuff; these people are, even by my standards, often right wing lunatics.
But they are pissed, mad as hell, about what our government is doing to our civil liberties, and if you want the point really rammed home that people of all political stripes oppose our Government's policies, this is the place to look.
This is absolutely, completely amazing.
Senator Byrd delivered the following remarks in the Senate on Tuesday as he continued his effort to increase Senate and public scrutiny of wide-ranging legislation to create a new Department of Homeland Security.
So, I find myself in a position that I had not intended -- and not an easy position. I have often felt, in recent days, as if this 84-year-old man is the only thing standing between a White House hungry for power and the safeguards in the Constitution. That is not bragging, that is lamenting.
Can you tell I'm impressed? As I asked a few days ago, "What would an honest Senator do?" - well, I'd say it's something a lot like this.
Take a look between the lines here. This man is worried. We should be too.