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Tag: Gary Johnson

Top Posts in 2012

The top 10 posts on Selfish Citizenship in 2012 were:

  1. Open Letter to Gary Johnson
  2. On Foreign Policy, American Founders vs. Ron Paul
  3. 6 Causes of India’s Mega-Blackout, Lessons for US
  4. Bipartisan Deal – Status Quo Continuing Resolution for FY 2013
  5. Top Three Reasons to Vote Obama for President
  6. Top Three Reasons to Vote Romney for President
  7. Angry Libertarians
  8. Cannibal Culture
  9. Not an Emergency, but a Suicide Attempt
  10. The Last Goode Democrat

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An Open Letter to Gary Johnson, Libertard for President

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw4o4wSbKxQ]

Mr. Johnson,

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.

Sincerely,

Jim Woods

 

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Obama Kills an American Traitor

In addition to just praise for the CIA and our military, President Obama deserves praise for today’s killing of traitor Anwar al-Awlaki. Anyone who disputes the justice of this killing is evading the facts from reality. However, there is a separate point that is worthy of discussion: Does the process for targeting Americans turned traitorous terrorists overseas offer adequate protection for the target’s individual and constitutional rights?

Looking at this concrete example, we see that this was not a case of the executive branch going off reservation and freelancing. Serious consideration has given to understanding and assessing statutes passed by the legislature and rulings by the judiciary to ensure that the procedural rights found in our Constitution and statutes were adhered to (see Washington Post article). Further, in this particular case, the judicial branch ruled that the Obama administration was acting within the executive’s political discretion.

However, in these types of cases, are our current statutes adequate for instituting procedural rights and controls to protect the individual rights of American citizens evidently involved in terrorism and rebellion against the United States? I think that is a question worthy of congressional investigation and possibly additional legislation. For example, are the procedural rights and controls to protect Americans from having their phones tapped more than those of the President ordering their killing?

This is a case in which Rep. Ron Paul, the Republican candidate, demonstrates his utter failure in his current position, which demonstrates why he should not be President at the risk of him attempting to rule by decree. MSNBC reports that Paul condemned the killing of al-Awlaki as essentially the murder of an American by his own government. Yet, Rep. Paul was a member of Congress during a period of time that everybody knew that President Obama had ordered the killing of al-Awlaki; as a congressman, what did Paul do to spark congressional action to implement procedural rights and controls by statute? As a congressman, his job is more than voting no against almost every bill on the House floor; is the extra-judicial premeditated killing of an American citizen not sufficiently important to spark Rep. Paul to action instead of hollow rhetoric?

Further, in the case of Rep. Paul, in that MSNBC piece, he is quoted as saying that “Al-Awlaki nobody ever suggested that he was participant in 9/11.” Contrary to the point of the ignorant Paul, Awlaki has been tied to giving aid to and having direct contact with 9/11 hijackers in San Diego. Given that these facts were reported by the 9/11 commission, it is shocking that Rep. Paul, a candidate for President, should appear to be ignorant of them.

Shifting to the statement of another Republican candidate, former Gov. Gary Johnson said that the case raised serious questions about whether al-Awlaki’s constitutional due process rights had been violated. As a presidential candidate, Johnson should be better informed and speak beyond platitudes to addressing specific policy issues. Frankly, he missed a good opportunity to either be informed on an issue or shut up when he is not.

What should candidate Johnson have said, informed by my prior observations?

Al-Awlaki was a vile traitor and today he received justice. I praise the CIA, our military, and President Obama for this action to protect the individual rights of all Americans.

However, I have to be honest and point out that President Johnson would have handled this situation differently; although, it would have had the same net result. When presented with this plan to kill an American turned traitor and terrorist, I would have asked for more diligence in protecting due process rights of an American citizen. It should not be the President alone without direction from the legislature and review by the courts to decide that a traitorous American should be killed by our government. I am not suggesting that a criminal conviction is required; however, if the executive branch requires court review to listen to his phone calls, then there should be some judicial protection when the President signs an unconvicted American’s death warrant.

While the courts have ruled upon al-Awlaki’s case and validated this death sentence of a traitor and terrorist, and the executive branch acted to fully consider the constitutional protections of Al-Awlaki, I think that the Congress has fallen down on this issue of establishing protections for Americans’ rights. Given the foreknowledge of this action, I question some of my fellow Republicans also running for our party’s presidential nomination: “As current legislators, what have you done to insure that statutes were enacted to protect the rights of Americans targeted for killing based upon allegations of being traitorous terrorists?”

As President, I would have started by doing as President Obama did; however, I would have done more to spark the Congress to act so as to protect the rights of Americans subject to such allegations and penalties.

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