Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
The top 10 posts on Selfish Citizenship in 2012 were:
- Open Letter to Gary Johnson
- On Foreign Policy, American Founders vs. Ron Paul
- 6 Causes of India’s Mega-Blackout, Lessons for US
- Bipartisan Deal – Status Quo Continuing Resolution for FY 2013
- Top Three Reasons to Vote Obama for President
- Top Three Reasons to Vote Romney for President
- Angry Libertarians
- Cannibal Culture
- Not an Emergency, but a Suicide Attempt
- The Last Goode Democrat
Now, that I can discuss Chief Justice John Roberts’ recent publication without the punctuation of salty expletives, I thought that I would share a few initial thoughts.
I’m not surprised that the individual mandate was ruled to be a tax as I recall that description of it going back before ObamaCare’s passage; however, I am shocked that it was viewed to be constitutional as a tax. Frankly, Roberts’ ill formed opinion has declared deuces wild with the Congress’ tax power.
I made a list of legislative obscenities that the ruling would permit under the doctrine of misnaming them a tax. After posting several to Facebook as a test, I found the following to get the most reaction, so I will repeat it:
“I observe that the House Republican reaction to the ObamaCare decision could be to impose a federal financial penalty on all single parents and call it a tax, while hailing federally mandated marriage as a cure to social ills. Justice Roberts and the four court libs would uphold this abuse of the tax power.”
This is not an arbitrary assertion as it is founded in Republican talking points about promoting two parent families as a cure to all sorts of social dysfunctions that increase social welfare costs for the government. Previously, Congress would authorize tax benefits for those that both paid taxes and lived congressionally approved lifestyles; now, Justice Roberts has rubberstamped the Congress punishing, without due process of law and other essential constitutional right guarantees, those who make life choices different than the preferences of the Congress-of-the-moment without regard to constitutional limits upon congressional powers.
Imagine what could be considered necessary and proper for the collection of this federally mandated marriage tax. For example, all single males could be required to provide DNA to the government to prove that they do not owe a tax for having unknowingly co-created the fatherless child of an unmarried mother.
While I could go on and on about specific legislative abominations violating individual rights through Chief Justice Roberts’ expansive view of the tax power, I don’t want to give the vile Republicans too many ideas; so, let me focus on key understandings that should limit Congress’ tax power.
Before the ruling, I had drafted some thoughts on voluntary government financing versus problems under the current federal tax system. The purpose of a tax is to raise revenue to pay for legitimate government expenses. In that context, Congress has already been abusing its tax power to, amongst other issues: (1) punish successful Americans for the crime of being financial successful, while depriving them of the constitutional rights of the accused, and (2) expanding the domain of the federal government beyond its specific constitutional limits as if the tax power gave the federal government general police powers to nudge individual behavior.
This opinion by Roberts’ affirmed those abuses, while explicitly endorsing without court scrutiny, an expanded use of punitive taxes to nudge Americans into compliance with majority opinion; for example: would a congressional afterlife insurance mandate upon atheists be subject to strict scrutiny or not according to Roberts, who apparently failed to think his opinion through? Roberts’ opinion is a total assault upon individual rights and President Thomas Jefferson’s view that the federal courts should protect individuals from government trampling upon their individual rights.
For those currently reflexively lambasting Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion, they should consider the consequences if he had ruled correctly on the limits upon Congress’ tax power. There are many popular tax deductions and credits that would be correctly ruled unconstitutional as a dangerous expansion of the congressional policy domain. While I think that Chief Justice Roberts should have had the integrity to rule in favor of limited congressional authority, Roberts is probably aware that he is too much of an unprincipled coward to have done so. Ask yourself, do you have the integrity to impose limits upon transient majority opinion using tax policy to violate individual rights with a nudge?
Extra Point: Fictional future Congressman Eric Cartman has declared that “soulless Gingers should be penalized with a punitive federal tax,” if they fail to dye their red hair into compliance with the judgment of others. Chief Justice Roberts and the four liberal justices of the Supreme Court agree that this tax would be constitutional.
This year’s Republican nomination process was interesting, because the candidates who contested through the process represented distinct ideological perspectives. Thus, they are proxies for the relative strength of contesting ideas within the Republican Party.
The ability of candidates with these clear distinctions to maintain the contest as long as they did may be attributed to an increase in protection of free speech rights from the Citizens United decision (see post “Super PACs: Shedding the Bad Rap” by Ray La Raja on Riding the Tiger).
In order of their relative electoral strength, the candidates and their ideas were as follows:
Mitt Romney, the victor, is the standard bearer for pragmatic stewardship, which is the dominate ideology of the Republican Party.
Rick Santorum evangelized for the religion right. His electoral failure demonstrates the weakness of the theocrat faction. For all their huffing and puffing, they are a minority within the party.
Newt Gingrich’s government reform platform expressed the agenda of the neoconservatives. Republicans proclaimed him the candidate of ideas, and most Republicans don’t like ideas.
Ron Paul was followed by the ‘libertarians’. While I disagree that Ron Paul is an advocate for freedom and limited government, his mistaken and passionate supporters label him so. Based upon his supporters’ narrative, Paul’s showing demonstrates the electoral weakness of advocates of limited government within the Republican ranks.
A relevant mention is merited for Rick Perry, who championed the neoconfederates and was quickly booted from contention by the party of Lincoln.
Given the results on the primaries and caucuses, the Republicans have demonstrated themselves to be primarily a pragmatic party, not a conservative party. This supports my frequent contention that those that complain loudest about RINOs as not really Republicans, but they hope that they can pretend to be the dominate voice in the party without being challenged for their fraud.
Because pragmatists oppose principles on principles, Romney’s policies will be implanted in his mind by those who do express ideas. The changes brought into being during his potential Administration will be big government reforms from the neoconservatives, who will give empty promises that big government will be changed into better big government. Meanwhile, the religious right will be thrown sufficient policy concessions to keep them obedient within the Republican coalition. However, those that advocate limited government will be given rhetoric without implementing policies.
For an examination of the neoconservatives as the ideological bastard love children of Leon Trotsky and Plato, I recommend C. Bradley Thompson’s book Neoconservativism: An Obituary for an Idea.
In the current General Assembly session, Del. David Englin (D-Alexdria) had introduced legislation in Virginia to study granting the state government a monopoly in the legal sale of marijuana.
The distribution would be executed by the state owned liquor stores. Englin notes that, instead of giving their money to criminals, the pot users would be giving it to the government.
While I support decriminalization of pot, and in fact all abused drugs, Englin’s is a poor idea. Do not get me wrong; while I find potheads and other drug abusers to be mistaken and vile, I see no rights violation and therefore no criminality in their immoral use of drugs.
My point is that Virginia has an illegitimate habit of creating state monopolies for controlling and regulating vice. All of our overpriced liquor stores (to become pot stores) are state owned, and Governor McDonnell has proposed privatizing them. In Virginia, we have a rapacious state run lottery, when private for-profit lotteries are forbidden. Facilities for betting on horses are licensed and monitored by the state in such a manner that they are best described as state-granted monopolies.
The purpose of our state government is to protect individual rights from violations by another individual, not to peddle and regulate vice. Drugs, liquor, and gambling do not violate individual rights, even if some consumers are choosing to harm themselves. The state should not only get out of these “businesses”, but should also stop regulating the behavior of all individuals, because some are self-destructive.
Threats of government force cannot protect an individual from the consequences of their own choices, and we should stop hoping that it can.
Writing in the Atlantic, Eric Liu describes a reconception of American citizenship based upon duty (from the grave, the German grandfather of fascism and communism, Immanuel Kant gives him a high five). A former Clinton speechwriter and domestic policy advisor, Liu marries his altruistic welfare statist collectivism to the neoconfederate attack on the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to our Constitution.
This duty based conservatism is a vile and dangerous misconception, as described in the piece.
Look at some of the concretes it supports, and in some cases recently advocated by Democratic legislators, that have been discontinued or opposed as a violation of individual rights in the context of an actual history of such abuses: the military draft, disenfranchisement, compulsory community service, citizenship for an individual varying over time based upon the dictates of the party in power, and citizenship granted as process rights by the state as a reward for political obedience.
This is the kind of idea that could lead to civil war, and in fact it did; see Taney’s opinion in Dred Scott.
While Liu claims some jest in his gauche modest proposal, I see no humor in it and refuse to grant him the fig leaf as some of these violations of individual rights are truly advocated by him and leaders of his party.
Last October, when our President announced that the U.S. would be sending about 100 of our troops to Uganda, I heard a lot of people asking, “What is the President thinking? How was this in U.S. interest?”
As easy as it is to find fault with our President, Obama was simply following the law. That is right! While Congress has not authorized the use of the U.S. military against Iran, Congress commanded the President to use military forces in Uganda as part of an effort to quash the Christian terrorist organization known as the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Thanks to Sen. Russ Feingold, Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, the unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate, and an unrecorded voice vote in the U.S. House, the Congress directed the President to come up with a plan to use the U.S. military in Uganda (see the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009).
So if you have questions about why U.S. troops are in Uganda instead of Iran, I suggest that you pose those questions to your Senators, who gave unanimous agreement to this policy.
I write to explain how your quixotic presidential campaign could become consequential in American history.
To be clear, I did not support your Republican bid; I judged you to be too inexperienced. However, now that you have surrendered serious contention by running as a Libertarian, I offer some advice at the cost of you checking your premises about your potential role in this election. If you missed it, I recommend that you see or listen to C-SPAN’s recent series “The Contenders”; in which, historians discussed the long term historical impacts of failed presidential candidates.
First, I recommend that you take a page from the once almost viable Ross Perot by making the actual ending of deficit spending the focus of your campaign. To adapt Carville, the slogan would be “It’s the federal spending, Stupid!” Given popular disbelief that real spending cuts are possible in reality, you should promise to follow Jefferson’s example and appoint a modern Albert Gallatin (our nation’s longest serving Sec. of Treasury) to discipline federal spending with a focus upon eliminating programs and positions. Gallatin roots your program to historically proven debt reduction and ties it to the Revolution of 1800, a shift in national party power. A deficit focus draws in the Tea Party, the memory of the Reform movement, and deficit hawks from both parties, while giving you the opportunity to challenge bipartisan failure, out of control Congresses from both parties, and weak Presidents from both parties.
Second, following the examples of presidential contenders of consequence, you need to develop a populist message to challenge the status quo. Instead of past irrational emotionalism, I recommend that you appeal to morality and the American sense of life by naming and challenging political corruption. The term to use to brand your corrupt opponents is the “New Spoils System”, which will focus on how the major parties rob the federal Treasury to pay off their pet special interests for electoral financing and support, and how the parties use federal regulation and executive power as a protection racket for sale. I like the bipartisanship of the term as it invokes Jacksonian abuses and Garfield’s bloody shirt while modernizing the emphasis from patronage to appropriations, regulations, waivers, and an administrative process exempt from court review (see Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council).
Third, to have a significant and ongoing influence on our political discourse, you need to champion a differentiating idea that resolves the contradictions created by your opponents’ Gordian rhetoric. In the present context, that idea is the restoration of civil society in America. Americans identify the ongoing rancor in our polity, which results from 50% plus 1 attempting to impose intrusive uniform solutions by law in ever growing areas of our lives. The idea that “we” must do something has been misappropriated to mean that government must do something, which is advocated at the expense of freedom of association and civil society, the collection of non-governmental institutions and groups acting independently, freely, and organized to achieve specific shared goals. In our foreign policy, America champions the development of civil society as the cure to tyranny, but our leading parties vote and act to strangle civil society domestically.
Fourth, at the risk of sharing an idea that could help you actually win, you need to recognize the electoral support of our major parties as coalitions of conflicted interests, which is some cases champion the protection of individual rights and in others the use of government power to violate individual rights. To break the parties’ electoral stranglehold, you need to forge a new middle that focuses exclusively upon the government’s role of protecting individual rights; this not only puts you into a position to challenge for portions of their bases, but also allows you to be the beneficiary of the two major contenders’ attacks upon one another to disaffect their opponent’s base. Further, it potentially repositions your opponents as the fringe candidates by positioning them to speak in defense of the rights-violating fringe of their base (a.k.a. the religious right, the nativists, the progressives, the environmentalists). As an example of using concrete political issues to challenge for an opponent’s base, illustrate a broader theme, and influence future policy, I recommend the recent campaign of Ontario’s Freedom Party.
As a specific example of applying this tactic in this campaign by targeting a core of the Democrats’ new electoral coalition: “President Obama, a confessed user of illegal drugs, asks the young of this country for their votes while simultaneously acceding to federal policy to criminalize these franchised citizens drinking a beer. If this is your first election and you agree that you should be prosecuted and your future encumbered by sanctions for drinking a beer, then vote for President Obama. If you reject federal paternalism in your life choices, then vote for me.” Framed so that he cannot have it both ways, who is Obama going to throw under the bus, MADD or the youth vote? If he attempts to use his office to change the policy, then your campaign has directed the policy agenda.
Finally, while previous influential presidential contenders shaped the direction of their party and its agenda, you do not have a real party to influence. Thus, the focus of your influence should be shifting the positions of congressional candidates from both parties. One reason for using Perot’s deficit elimination as a core issue to your campaign is that he was able to attract a significant enough portion of the vote to influence the outcomes of congressional elections. To win, congressional candidates should be put into a position to require your supporters, in addition to those of their party’s standard bearer. In order to attract your supporters, they will need to take strong positions for restoring civil society, and against deficit spending and corruption, while running to the middle and away from the fringe factions of their party. Congress, and not the President, will set the path for reform or further decay after the next election; should that be a Congress guided by the values outlined above? Should the next President (one of your opponents), winning a plurality instead of a majority, be positioned to become a catalyst for these changes so as to avoid becoming an instant lame duck?
While you will not win the office, through the conduct of your campaign, you could still set the policy agenda and win the future for our American republic.
- “It is time to insist on judges who understand the history and meaning of America as a country endowed by God.” –Newt Gingrich, Winning the Future, p. 45
This statement goes far to exemplify a critical aspect of Newt Gingrich that makes him unfit to be an American leader.
On its face and without being isolated for focus, this statement is easy to gloss over and neglect the radical nature of his idea, which is to violate a core principle of our original and existing U.S. Constitution. Consider:
- “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” U.S. Constitution, Article VI
If you read the whole sentence from the Constitution, it includes the charge that a President Gingrich would have to swear an oath to support the Constitution.
Does Newt Gingrich support the Constitution or not? His own words impeach him and invalidate his candidacy.
Cross Posted from Conceding the Future
Join us for a discussion of America’s interests in foreign policy. The book is The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest: A Moral Ideal for America by Peter Schwartz; only 61 pages to chew and savor.
The content of this ARI publication will be supplemented and contrasted with two brief official government statements on America’s interest, which are found in: (1) A National Security Strategy for a Global Age (White House, December 2000; pp. 4-5), and (2) Leading Through Civilian Power: The First Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) (U.S. State Dept., 2010, pp. 9-10).
Objectivists, Democrats, and Republicans all agree that our foreign policy should be rooted in America’s interests, but we do not agree on what American interests and values are.
A recent example of different definitions for the same concepts subverting a public discussion on foreign policy would be the recent US involvement in Libya. According the official articulation of America’s interests found in the QDDR, American intervention in Libya was consistent with American interests, even if President Obama failed to articulate why that was the case.
In the discussion, we will examine:
1) Schwartz’s articulation of self-interest as the basis for understanding America’s interests.
2) How does Schwartz’s position compare to the bipartisan understanding of America’s interest as found in the 2000 National Security Strategy with its hierarchy of vital, important, and other/humanitarian interests?
3) How does Schwartz’s position compare to the Obama Administration’s four fundamental American interests as found in the QDDR?
4) Does the Obama Administration’s four fundamental American interests represent a substantially different understanding of America interests when compared to the bipartisan hierarchy?
5) How could the Objectivist understanding of self-interest influence foreign policy discussions in the presidential election?
6) Is there an opportunity to influence future American foreign policy by correcting the official statement of America’s interests during the development of the 2nd QDDR, to be published in 2014?
DCOS member Jim Woods will be leading the discussion.
Previously savored copies of Schwartz’s The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest may be found on Amazon:
New copies of Schwarz are available at the Ayn Rand Bookstore:
A National Security Strategy for a Global Age (see section entitled “Guiding Principles of Engagement”) is available for free on-line at:
The QDDR is available for free on-line at:
Let us get serious for a moment and discuss the Occupation that is destabilizing the Middle East. Since 1925, the House of Saud has been occupying the Hijaz, which is the region that includes the Islamic holy sites in Mecca and Medina.
The Saudis follow and propagate a deviate form of Islam (a reactionary form of Salafiyyah, and more specifically Wahhabism), which might be more generously labeled as heterodoxy. Consequently, Abul-Aziz ibn Saud’s violent conquest of the Hashemite ruler of the Hijaz has been controversial amongst Muslims. Thus, the conqueror (a religious crusader) and his sons, who subsequently ruled the kingdom, have attempted to legitimize their violent invasion and continued occupation of the Hijaz. Using the wealth created by western oil development, the Saudis have attempted to propagate their religious heterodoxy against modern Muslims, who seek improvement in the individual lives of themselves and their children in actual reality through western technology and values.
The militant lust for killing other Muslims of Abul-Aziz included unsuccessful invasions of Jordan and Yemen; however, there may be others that escape my memory. The new generation of leaders of small states in the Arabian Gulf allied themselves with the United States in the war against Saddam’s Iraq seeking a great power protection against the Saudi’s lust for their domains and the designs of Persian mullahs willing to kill Muslim Arabs in order to gain greater geopolitical power through state control of oil reserves.
As a distraction from this Muslim upon Muslim murder and violence, the House of Saud has deceived Muslims with a faux conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. While Israel seeks peace and statehood for the Palestinians, the Saudis and other ignorant Muslim depots, whom the Saudis have duped, fund a Palestinian leadership that undermines peace and Palestinian statehood in their every effort. Given the forbearance demonstrated by the Israelis, the casualties in that persistent televised conflict are exceeded by the Muslim upon Muslim violence in Algeria. Absent the financing of Palestinian extremists by the Saudis and their dupes (such as the Bush and Obama Administrations), a modern life embracing individual rights and the pursuit of happiness would be available to the Palestinians in trade with Israel and the West.
So while the despotic Muslim rulers and demagogues of the Middle East suggest that terrorism and other Muslim violence can only be solved by negotiations between their violent (Muslim killing) Palestinian stooges and the Israelis, let me suggest another occupation that the United States could focus upon in its diplomacy…the Saudi occupation of the Hijaz.