Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tomorrow: The Triumphant Return

I know both of my readers will be glad to hear that the blog is coming back, this Wednesday.

The blog will have a new style, namely, shorter entries. I will start with a series that identifies the areas where Libertarians and Republicans differ, and try to suggest how we can work together without trampling on each other's beliefs.

Our real enemies are the Dems, and we need to work together to destroy them, or end up living in Comrade Clinton's Happy Camps.

Be back tomorrow, with the first entry in "The Issues that Divide Us."


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The New Style

I am going to shift from long-form essays to more frequent, but less deep posts. Occasionally, I will post another long-form essay like I have in the past, when I have one that I feel is really ready for consumption.

I want to thank the people that are still checking in regularly, all three of you. Your patience will be rewarded with much more material.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

McCain's Potential to Unify the Republicans

In an earlier post, I advocated voting Hillary Clinton for President in 2008. I did this because John McCain stands for everything I oppose. Except for Iraq, I disagree with him on everything, and I believe he will be a disaster for the Republican Party. Furthermore, I did this because Republicans have a serious backbone problem, and quite frequently fail to stand up to Republican presidents when they are clearly in-the-wrong. I know Republicans will stand up to Mrs. Bill Clinton.

I despise Sen. McCain. I think he is wrong on every question except the war in Iraq. However, I plan to vote for McCain in 2008.

What changed my mind? Was it Iraq? Neither Hillary or Obama is dumb enough to want to be the Democrat who lost the war in Iraq. They've said so, themselves. Was it judges? Given his past words and deeds on the issue, I don't believe he'll appoint any judges that agree with us.

I want to see him in office because he will unify Republicans against him.

We need to see Republicans retake or make real gains in the House and the Senate. Furthermore, we need to get ourselves ready for the fight ahead. If McCain wins, we have to be ready to monitor every bill and to write our Congresspeople and Senators on a weekly basis to urge them to oppose McCain's leftist policies, and filibuster his proposals if necessary. So, a few thoughts on the operation:

1.) Congressional staff tend to stack and ignore postcards and form-letters. Make sure your letter is unique.

2.) Write early. With the post-anthrax/ricin security measures in place, it takes quite some time to actually get mail to your representatives.

3.) Write with passion, but not with threats. Obviously, threatening your Representative's life is illegal, I am referring to threats that you will never vote for them again, that you will switch parties or never donate money again. Write your entire letter in a calm, rational tone and avoid profanity. When these threats are made in a letter with an emotional tone, the staff does not believe them. If they are made too-frequently, they will ignore it entirely. Save it for big issues, like global warming and amnesty. When you do make the threat, make it sound like you are reluctant to make the threat.

4.) Hand-write your letter. I know, in an age of computers, this is stupid. However, congressional staff still take letters that are hand-written more seriously than letters that are typed on a computer. Why? Because it's Congress. If they weren't dangerous lunatics, they would have real jobs. Make sure you write legibly, and if possible, print rather than use cursive.

5.) Include a complete return-address. Without a return-address, they can't respond. If they have to respond, they have to dwell on your letter longer. When there are thousands of responses they need to make, this can overwhelm them quickly, and they are just as likely to urge their candidate to fold to avoid more mail as everybody else.

Please, vote this November. Please, vote McCain. Please, please, get ready for the biggest intra-Party brawl we have ever seen. It will be rough, but it will force the Republicans to finally grow a backbone.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Free Trade Cures Poverty: Unless You're a Democrat

Imagine that you are a poor child living in some Third World hellhole. If you haven't been sold in to slavery, prostitution, or kidnapped and forced to serve as a child soldier, chances are that you make a living in the fields or digging through city dumps for bits of metal. You probably live on less than $2 a day. (See Chart) Your family is just barely able to eat, and starvation is never more than a few days away. Since you have to work to eat, you couldn't go to school even if there was one. Your best chance at a decent life is probably joining a gang or the army, if you can tell the difference between the two. Education is not even a possibility. Your future is pretty-much hopeless.

Suddenly, a company from the United States decides to open a factory in your city. What to do? True, the hours are long. True, the wages are not what an American union member would expect. However, the hours are shorter and the money better than scrounging for metal in the dump or breaking your back in the fields. If they weren't better jobs than the ones people already held, why would they switch? In fact, these jobs offer the opportunity of a substantially higher-than-average wages to the workers who get them. In other words, they offer security against starvation, they offer the possibility of a better life where no possibility previously existed.

Now, imagine that the company in the United States faces protests from well-meaning liberals who oppose "sweatshops," like these idiots. They rant and rave about "the children" and how the Western Imperialists are exploiting the poor brown-peoples of the Third World, and demand the companies either abandon their sweatshops or pay their workers what their Western counterparts would receive.

Why did the American company want to locate a factory in your area in the first place? Certainly not because of stability. Why risk bombed buildings, riots, inflation and government takeovers in the Third World if you have to pay the same wages as you do in America? The single most-popular reason for any company to relocate abroad is for reduced labor costs. If the people in the Third World cannot offer their labor services cheaply, then they have no way of attracting jobs to their countries.

In other words, the anti-"sweatshop" protesters are condemning the Third World to poverty and starvation in the name of saving it from poverty and starvation. What's worse, the anti-sweatshop campaign has expanded to become the idea of "fair-trade." Fair Trade is the idea that buyers in the West should not only purchase products from impoverished nations, but pay more than the market price for it, make sure the producers are unionized, pay for the producer's education and the development of their homelands. Not surprisingly, the main backers of "fair-trade" are unions in the West. After all, when the cost of manufacturing here at home is the same as manufacturing in Ecuador, nobody will manufacture products in Ecuador, and the unions gain massive numbers of new members.

This movement will fail, fundamentally because the products are far-too-expensive. Take the example of Just Garments, a Salvadoran company founded specifically to serve the "fair-trade" market in 2003, which closed it's doors in 2007 because of a lack of sales. Liberals love to protest "corporate greed" and "exploitation," because it gives them a warm, fuzzy feeling of moral superiority. Unfortunately for the residents of El Salvador, they don't seem very warm and fuzzy about the prices they have to pay to see their demands met.

Unions overwhelmingly give their money (97% for AFSCME and the AFL-CIO,) to Democrats. It shows in the current Democrat Presidential candidates' positions on trade, with both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama opposed to NAFTA and CAFTA.

Libertarians and Republicans are both unquestionably on the side of free trade. The Democrats, on the other hand, demand "fair-trade" and protectionism. I've discussed the similarities between Libertarians and Republicans on economic issues before, but I want to emphasize it for a reason: Our ideological enemies are diametrically opposed to everything we believe about capitalism, property rights, free-markets and free-trade. Pick any economic (rather than social,) issue and there is absolutely no agreement between Libertarians and Democrats. Democrats don't share our belief in the value of trade, and the value of the free-market.

Economic freedom is more important, in my mind, than most of the areas where Republicans and Libertarians differ: Drugs, prostitution, abortion, etc. You will have to decide for yourself if you agree, but realize that if you vote for the Libertarian Party this November because of policy differences on crack or hookers you might be electing by default people who have no faith in free-markets, and an endless belief in the power of government.

UPDATE: Hot of the presses from the Drudge Report, Starbucks' stock price is tanking in the face of cheaper competitors. Hmmm... could it be because of multiple price increases in the wake of adopting
"fair-trade" coffee?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The political spectrum: Line or circle?

My earlier post about the composition of Democrat voters seems to have attracted a lot of email and argument, primarily because I use the straight-line political spectrum (shown below) to illustrate my point:


This spectrum, as I point out in the post, is totally useless. Moving to the left does not win Republicans elections, making a clear and distinct case for conservative policies does. Democrats can win using this strategy, but only because moving to the right makes them look less like socialists.

A more disturbing criticism of this straight-line political spectrum is that the spectrum should be a circle. The idea is that when you move too-far in either direction, you arrive at dictatorship.

This idea is total nonsense. Conservative philosophy suggests that the government should stay out of our lives unless we are hurting someone else without that person's consent. It also suggests that we should be armed and ready to overthrow our government if it becomes tyrannical. Liberals argue that the government should be used to redistribute wealth involuntarily, that the government should be used to force an end to discrimination through law, and that the government can ignore laws of supply and demand and pass rent control laws and declare "gun-free zones" and that these silly ideas will work. Which one of these ideas brings us closer to fascism? Limited government or the mystical state?

The only vague similarity between fascism and conservatism is that conservatives believe in the defense of their country. Carrying conservative ideas to their extreme results in more freedom, not less.

What we need is a Statism index. At one end you will find Republicans, anarchists and libertarians. At the other, you will find John McCain, Democrats, communists and fascists.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Islamofascism and Isolationism

Isolationism is the doctrine that if we leave our enemies alone, they will have no reason to interfere with us, and will leave us alone. Isolationism can work. However, it can only work under very specific circumstances. First, we have to have sufficient firepower to beat any potential enemy. Second, we have to display sufficient willpower to use it. Third, our enemies have to have a rational fear of the consequences of our weapons being used against them and their countries.

The first point is not in doubt when we discuss the United States. We could nuke any country on Earth in to oblivion dozens of times over. We have the most powerful military in the world by far, and could invade and conquer almost any nation we chose if we were so inclined. Thankfully, we are not. I'll steal a line from Colin Powell: "We have sent men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States throughout the world in the past century to put down oppression... And did we ask for any land? No. The only land we asked for was enough land to bury our dead.."

Firepower is useless for the purposes of deterrence if your enemies believe that you lack the will to use it. Osama bin Laden himself came to believe this after the Black Hawk Down episode in Somalia, and said as much on Frontline: "[O]our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger. He was unable to endure the strikes that were dealt to his army, so he fled, and America had to stop all its bragging and all that noise it was making in the press... After a few blows, it forgot all about those titles and rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of its soldiers. America stopped calling itself world leader and master of the new world order, and its politicians realized that those titles were too big for them and that they were unworthy of them." In other words, running away has consequences on the way people perceive us. Somalia was a minor intervention, where we had little to no interest in interfering, and invested very little pride and prestige. Iraq, on the other hand, is a big deal. If we run away, after all of these years, what will the OBL's of the world think? Just keep fighting for a few years, my fellow mujahadeen, and the infidels will run! They do not have the stamina for casualties...

This cannot be allowed to happen if the American military is going to maintain any sort of credibility as a threat in the eyes of our enemies. If isolationist sentiments win, and we run from Iraq, neither enemies nor allies will fear or respect us for decades. We will be the new French.

The third, and perhaps most important factor, is that the enemy has to have a rational fear of the consequences if we unleash our firepower on their country/group. In other words: Our enemies have to want to live. The Soviet Union never attacked us with atom bombs primarily because it's leaders wanted to live, and because they knew that they would be the leaders of a pile of slag at the end of a nuclear exchange. Al Qaeda suicide bombers are motivated by something different: They want to die as martyrs, and believe that they are fulfilling a religious duty by blowing up innocent civilians. Moreover, they tend not to worry if their fellow Muslims are killed in response because they too will go on to be honored in Heaven as martyrs.

How do you deter somebody who does not fear their death or the death of others? You don't. You stop them beforehand, by pursuing the people who fund, train and equip them.

Of course, isolationists regularly suggest that the reason Islamofascists are mad at the United States is because we are over in their part of the world interfering with their countries. This is total nonsense. As Daniel Pipes noted in this post, the terrorists from bin Laden to the man who slaughtered Theo van Gogh have made their goals and motivations clear: They want to restore the caliphate, and submit the world to the rule of Islam. Those who do not submit will be killed.

There is no negotiation with people who follow this sort of ideology. What do we offer? We let them kill half of us and leave the rest of us alone? Islamofascism is driven by a religious obligation to convert the world, and kill those who refuse. Furthermore, they don't care if they or anybody else die in the process. They will not leave us alone until we are either dead or praying to Allah.

Knowing that they will continue to pursue us, we have to recognize a few realities if we decide to retreat inside the walls of Fortress America. If we retreat, we cede the initiative to the terrorists. We let them train and plot in private, and decide when and how to strike. We will have to prepare everywhere to stop them, and add layer upon layer of security to our daily lives. Expect regular pat-downs, metal detectors and bag searches at every bus and train station. Expect a rectal probe before you get on a plane. Expect more confiscations of eyeglass screwdrivers and fuzzy handcuffs.

If you are a Libertarian because you want to see liberty expand, ask yourself: How can liberty expand in an environment like that? How can a nation that is no-longer feared across the globe, and still pursued by its enemies here at home ever hope to increase freedom in the face of constant danger from an enemy that will not let us run away? In my mind, it can't. The only logical answer is to pursue the terrorists abroad, destroy their safe-havens, freeze their bank accounts, listen to their phone calls, assassinate their leaders and bomb their training camps to dust.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Libertarian's Chance

The all-but-official nomination of Sen. John McCain as the Republican candidate for the presidency has created an unrivaled opportunity for the Libertarian Party, assuming that Libertarians are willing to nominate somebody who believes in a strong national defense.

Conservative Republicans are stuck with a nominee who might as well be a Democrat, as I wrote in my last post. McCain is so unpopular with conservatives that CPAC had to ask registrants not to boo the presumptive nominee. He is so unpopular with Rush Limbaugh that he has suggested that he might not be able to support him, and said specifically that he thinks that McCain's nomination would destroy the Republican party. Other talk-show hosts like Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Hugh Hewitt have said much the same thing. Ann Coulter has said that she would work to see Hillary Clinton elected rather than John McCain. Zogby polling data from Supper-di-duper Tuesday show that 8/10 conservative Republicans voted for somebody other than McCain.

In my experience, many of those Republicans who support McCain use 'he can win' as the justification for their vote, rather than 'I support him because of _________." A victory is hollow if it means that the opposite of everything you believe in will be implemented by the winner. A base that is so alienated that it is either holding its nose or getting ready to defect will not turn out on election day. The Republicans should have learned this lesson in 2006, as a base battered by the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill, a president that refuses to mount even an elementary defense of his own policies in Iraq and at home, and a congress that was only outspent by F.D.R. and L.B.J. decided to stay home.

These disaffected people are almost all big supporters of limited government, strict constructionist judges and a strong national defense. The Libertarian Party, as currently constituted, can provide two out of three of these. With the nomination of a candidate that supports the defense of the United States, rather than impractical isolationism, the Libertarian Party could get the disaffected conservative voter.

In previous posts, I have suggested that voting for a third party never works. I don't think it will work here, either. However, if the Libertarians ran a pro-war candidate, it would clear up one of the biggest questions that stands in the way of sending a message: What does a vote for the Libertarian Party mean? Voting Libertarian, particularly in a time of war, sends a mixed message. Are you voting Libertarian because you are an isolationist? Are you voting Libertarian because you want abortion legal? Are you voting Libertarian because you want a real reduction in the size of government? Running a pro-war Libertarian would clear up the confusion, and point clearly in the direction of limited government. Given McCain's questionable stances on abortion and judges, the abortion issue would be nullified. Voting Libertarian would send a clear and obvious message to the Republicans that you want to see government shrink, rather than regulate carbon emissions and free speech, while refusing to enforce immigration laws.

Finally, I would urge the Libertarian Party to consider what this influx of new voters would mean for their electoral future. The 2005 Pew Research Center Study, Beyond Red vs. Blue, indicates that conservative voters (called "Enterprisers,") make up 10% of regular voters. Libertarian voters accounted for 0.32% of the national vote count in 2004. If Libertarians could capture a little less than one Enterpriser in 30, they could DOUBLE their percentage of the vote.

DOUBLE. With 1/30th of the Enterpriser vote. The number of Republicans out there who are unwilling to support McCain is more like one-in-ten.

The Libertarians face a choice: Abandon isolationism, and become a real political force, or keep it and remain in the backwaters of American politics.

Carpe diem, Libertarians...