Saturday, November 04, 2006

Libertarian Candidates need to stress Pragmatics

There are some Libertarian candidates in some states who have done something that Libertarians have never done before--played politics to the polls. In response to polls, Gubernatorial candidates in several states have declared that they would order "their" National Guard units home from Iraq and Afghanistan, on the premise that they are their fighting an "illegal" war, and that they are not there in direct defense of the United States.
I understand, and support the basic Libertarian tenet that US armed forces should be used only for the direct defense of our nation, but to say those troops are being used for purposes other than the defense of our nation is naive. It is by the words of our enemies, those who are sworn to the destruction of the United States, that we know that their victory in Afghanistan and Iraq will be used to strengthen their ranks and resources. Having control over a nation would not only bring us back to the situation that brought about the attacks on 9/11, but would give them even greater resources than they had in 2001. As long as we are still dependent on foreign oil--a situation that cannot be remedied over-night, no matter how much research on alternative resources is being done--a jihadist monopoly on oil is all they need to devastate the economy of Capitalism throughout the world. There would be no free enterprise, one of the Sacred Cows of Libertarianism. It isn't one of the leaders of the United States saying this; it is the leaders of the radical Jihadist elements who are saying this. If we withdraw our troops from either of those countries, leaving a failed state behind, our enemies will declare it a victory, just as Nasrallah considered the ruination of Beruit and the deaths of hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians by his actions a victory. Victory for the Jihadists will strengthen that movement, and make it even more dangerous to our national security. You have to look at the big picture, look at the future and the results of our actions, and get out of the 2003 frame of mind.
It is hypocritical of a Libertarian to ignore "innocent until proven guilty," another Libertarian principle. We cannot say that the war is illegal until we can say for sure that the intelligence that led Clinton and Bush to believe that Saddam was an immediate threat to our national security was known to be flawed. That will be hard to prove, considering that the UN weapons inspectors were denied access to certain facilities in Iraq on their final tour in November 2002, and left without ever inspecting those facilities. It is even harder to prove now, since it has been discovered that plans for building nuclear weapons were included among the documents posted from Saddam's portfolio on the US government website until November 2nd. Are we really calling the former Iraqi Air Force Generals al Tikriti and Sada liars when they swear that they shipped what they took to be wmd and nuclear materials to Syria aboard Russian cargo aircraft in February 2003? It still, to this day, is very hard to prove that, right up to D-day, Saddam didn't have stockpiles of weapons that he had said he would use against US interests. The people of Iraq were not forced to vote. They voted in spite of violent pressure not to. We cannot relegate those people back to imprisonment by a tyrannical government. That would be against Libertarian principles
I'm not saying that invasion and war is the best solution. There were a lot of mistakes made, and rectifying those mistakes is even harder. Paul Bremmer mismanaged the interim government, and even anti-jihadi, pro-American Muslims, Egyptians, and Arabs criticize the coalition forces for not initially sending enough troops to prevent disaster, and not paying enough attention to creating jobs and repairing the infrastructure.
Another criticism of the coalition forces is that they didn't overthrow Saddam in 1991, or support the insurgency against Saddam, as we should have in the aftermath of the Gulf War. Clinton wanted to do that in 1998, but he was stymied by the unnecessary, frivolous, and costly impeachment proceedings. We can't go back in time to rectify the situation, but we can do it now. It's just much more costly and difficult now, especially the way it is being done now.
I like the suggestion that some pundits have made that there should be a program for jobs similar to the WPA in 1930's America. But that is the responsibility of the Iraqi government, not the American taxpayers. I would take that several steps further--Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Intel, and the like should be encouraged to set up shop in Iraq. I know, you'll say that they would be targets for anti-American violence, but they don't need to do business in the violent areas of that country. Start in Iraqi Kurdistan, which has been peaceful since April of 2003. Stay away from Baghdad, Tikrit, and the Anbar province--there are eleven other Iraqi provinces that are not experiencing violence. The poor and the jobless will move out of Sadr city to get jobs. They will loose their incentives for violence against the Iraqi government as they become part of the work force. The insurgency forces would be diluted, divided, and diminished. In order for that to work, Iraq needs a better police force. I say that the training of the police force be privatized. Let companies that deal with law enforcement and security contract with the Iraqi government to do the training and recruitment of the police force.
We should, perhaps, diminish the number of actual trigger pullers in our forces in Iraq, and concentrating more on logistics, air support, intelligence, and training. We need to encourage the new Iraqi government to tell us what exactly they want or need from us, and we need to work with that government on what they could do to help us develop an exit strategy. In a nutshell--the conduct of the operation is not up to politicians, it is the job of diplomats, entrepreneurs, and generals.
The Libertarian candidate should stress his or her strong points--the points of Libertarianism that cannot be rationally argued against. Personal responsibility, charity from the smallest possible community rather than welfare from Federal bureaucracy, an end to Big Government spending, states' rights, individual freedom, the Fair Tax proposal from Neal Boortz and others, the repeal of the Federal payroll and personal income tax laws, an end to Federal micromanagement of our daily lives, the repeal of laws creating victimless crimes, a level economic playing field, equal rights for everybody, strict constitutional limits on the Federal government--these are all strengths in the Libertarian principles.
As far as foreign policy, trade policy, and diplomacy goes, Natan Sharansky's The Case For Democracy should be required reading for all Libertarians. Sharansky was a voice for the dissidents in the old Soviet Union, and is still a voice that should be heard in the foundation of international liberty. One of his main points is that there is no such thing as a benevolent dictatorship. His argument on this point is very compelling, based on the fact that a dictator must create unstable situations in order to not be overthrown himself. Sharansky is a good example and a strong voice for international Libertarianism.
The Libertarian Party needs to be able to capitalize on its successes. Gary Johnson, for instance, was a Libertarian who got elected twice as the Governor of New Mexico, running as a Republican, but practicing Libertarian policy, somewhat successfully. He did not practice politics-as-usual during his tenure. Instead, he repealed the Blue Laws in New Mexico, reducing DWI violations in that state by 42%. He successfully. challenged the Federal Government over the right of the sovereign Native American nation in New Mexico to operate a casino. He reduced taxes and government spending, and made the economic environment in that state conducive to economic growth. Johnson held the highest elected position any Libertarian in America has held since the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. Libertarians should have taken that and run with it, instead we dropped the ball. We had the highly respected and widely read National Review on our side--during Johnson's tenure, Libertarian and Libertarianism were words often seen in that publication, but we failed to take advantage of that. It was an audition that the Libertarian philosophy passed, but failed to capitalize on.
Alan Greenspan held the highest post that any Libertarian has ever been appointed to in US history. As head of the Federal Reserve Bank, an entity Greenspan philosophically opposes, he virtually did nothing to control money supply, and created an economy strong enough to withstand an enemy attack on American soil, natural disasters, and high gasoline and fuel prices. There are now more jobs, and higher trading volume than ever, and the credit goes not to any Government administration, but to Greenspan. This is another audition that Libertarian principles passed. Libertarian candidates should really try to capitalize on it.
Politics-as-usual is not the Libertarian way. Libertarian candidates should be able to stress this point in a positive light. We are the only party for which "Vote for me, because I'm not the other guy," can effectively work. Pragmatics, not politics” should be our catchphrase.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Pre Election Venting

It is only four days away from Election Day, and I have to vent. I don't care which faction of the Demopublican Party takes the majority in Congress. They are all basically the same. No matter who takes the HOR and/or the Senate, we'll still have a Congress that is trying to extend its power outside its constitutional limits. We are still going to get a lot of talk and accusations, and very little action.
If you haven't noticed, there is very little substance to any of the political campaigns--it's all "Vote for me because I'm not the other guy."
If you do not believe that the Demopublcan system is a one party system, just look at how difficult it is in most states to get on the ballot as an independent or third party candidate. Impossibly large numbers of valid signatures under impossibly short deadlines ensure that the so-called "major parties" maintain their control of state governments and electorates without serious opposition.
Still, there are plenty of issues that will still compel me to go to the voting booth next Tuesday. I have already posted items in support of the legalization of marijuana, and equal rights for domestic partners, but there are other issues which interest me as well. On the Colorado ballot, for instance, is one that will make the citizens' initiative petition process easier and fairer. It will, if passed, put legislation back in the hands of the people, and take away the power of the single party system. If passed, Amendment 38 to the Colorado Constitution will add some cost to the taxpayer, but that cost will be offset by the ability of the citizen to get more costly earmarked and frivolous legislation repealed. It is an issue very important to me.
And there are the Libertarian candidates. Even though I don't see eye to eye with some of them on national security issues, I will vote for any candidate who is on the ballot as a Libertarian. The Libertarian Party has two basic planks on its platform--the Constitution of the United States, including the original ten articles of the Bill of Rights, and the idea of freedom described in the Declaration of Independence.
My point is, that even if there is nobody running for office that you might like, it is still important to get out and vote. You don't have to vote for any candidate, if you don't want to, just go and vote for the issues that are important to you.
There are only two more days in which I may post items pertaining to the elections. I don't have web access on Sundays, so Saturday and Monday are the only days on which I have an opportunity to be an activist for or against some issues. So, I probably won’t get all the information out I want to, for I'm still tied to a public computer, but, please, for your sake, get involved in what you feel is important. Vote.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

October Surprise

I try to stay away from the politicing going on between the factions of the Demopublican Party--after all, it doesn't concern me, as I vote Libertarian*, anyway.
John Kerry's now infamous remarks are too much for me to resist making a short comment. What he actually said, not what he meant to say, is what the world heard. If he didn't have a history of denegrading the military, we might be more inclined to accept his explaination. If his G.P.A. at Yale had been higher than George Bush's, then we might understand that he was trying to make a "dumb George" joke. If he didn't try to make a political issue of his faux pas, accusing the majority faction of distorting what he meant to say rather than apologizing for his mistatement, we might not see him as, once again, "the gift that keeps on giving" to the current majority faction.

*I have some issues with some Libertarian candidates in that they believe that liberty is only good for America and not in other parts of the world. That is the subject of another blog item, which will be posted in a few days. I will say here, that I am more of a Libertarian Internationalist than a Libertarian Nationalist, and that I will continue to vote Libertarian as a matter of principle.

Return of the Six-Party Talks

North Korea has agreed to rejoin the six party talks concerning that nation's nuclear arms inbvolvement and its ability to establish relations with the rest of the world. If Kim Jong Il doesn't change his mind, the talks, involving North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States are scheduled to resume before the end of the year.
Some credit could be given to the UN Security Council's resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea, but the main mover on this developement was The People's Republic of China. We knew that China was more important in bringing North Korea back to the table than the United States was, for China is that rogue nation's closest trade ally, and the US no longer had anything to offer or take away from the North. The Chinese expressed their disappointment with North Korea in its testing of a nuclear weapon, and have been in intense talks with that government. It seems that they have met with success.
The talks will likely include incentives for the Pyong-Yang government to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions, to restore basic human rights to its people, and to enter legitimate trade deals with the rest of the world. Nothing should be given to the North Korean government that is not incentive for meeting these criteria. Hopefully the fickle leadership of North Korea will not back out before the talks can resume.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Time is Relative

Anybody who lives with at least one cat has an idea of the relativity of time. What is two hours to many of us may be an instant to a cat, or what seems like an instant to us seems like eternity to a cat.

Hats off to the local Wendy's and Taco Bell restaurants, who declined to "fall back" Sunday morning. Not only did they open an hour early, but they had customers at 10 AM. Nobody's going to tell them what time it is.

Blogger had a technical problem Saturday which prevented many of us from being able to publish a post. I intended to clarify that Friday's "Quote of the week" was made with a great amount of sarcasm, on the part of Mr. Gaiman. I would hope that my readers caught the sarcasm, but I just wanted to make sure that the intent was clear. It applies to anybody who criticizes anything without actually reading it, hearing it, or seeing it.

I am a permanent resident in an Inn that does not have internet access, so I am limited to an hour a day on-line, as I have to use a public computer in order to go on-line. So time is important to me, and connection failures make me feel like this: