I Side With … Libertarians


I took the “I Side With” political quiz again tonight:

https://www.isidewith.com/political-quiz

The quiz now includes Libertarian Party candidates and, unsurprisingly, I agree most with them … in fact, my three most agreed with candidates were all Libertarians … though I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised that my highest level of agreement — 90% — was with John McAfee, who I did not even know was running.

I Side With Candidates 160319

After McAfee were Gary Johnson 88% (I voted for him in 2012), Austin Peterson 84% and — finally a major party candidate — Bernie Sanders 73%. I was also somewhat surprised that my lowest level of agreement was with John Kasich 51%, who I consider the most palatable of the Republican candidates.

Next to lowest was with Donald Trump 58%, though I’m not sure how “I Side With” determines that, since Trump never says anything substantive about how he would accomplish any of his purported political objectives.

As far as parties are concerned, I agree most with the Libertarian Party at 85%, followed by the Green Party 67%, the Constitution Party 66%, and the Socialists 62%.  My lowest levels of agreement were with the Democrats 60% and … at the very bottom … the Republicans 53%.

I Side With Party 160319

The test also describes my overall political philosophy as moderately libertarian (and slightly left of center) and that among “political themes”, my most significant preferences are for Decentralization over Centralization … Multilateralism over Unilateralism … Isolationism over Imperialism … Laissez-faire over Keynesian … Capitalism over Socialism … and Pacifism over Militarism.

I Side With Political Themes 160319

The map showing “Support for My Political Beliefs” across the United States also shows quite clearly that I would not fit in very well in the Deep South … though that is not much of a surprise.

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FLA 79

TomDispatch: Ann Jones on Social Democracy in Norway


I subscribe to TomDispatch …

TomDispatch header

… an email service that describes itself on the “About” page of  its website as follows:

Tom Engelhardt launched Tomdispatch in November 2001 as an e-mail publication offering commentary and collected articles from the world press. In December 2002, it gained its name, became a project of The Nation Institute, and went online as “a regular antidote to the mainstream media.” The site now features Tom Engelhardt’s regular commentaries and the original work of authors ranging from Rebecca Solnit, Bill McKibben, and Mike Davis to Chalmers Johnson, Michael Klare, Adam Hochschild, Robert Lipsyte, and Elizabeth de la Vega. Nick Turse, who also writes for the site, is associate editor and research director.

Tomdispatch is intended to introduce readers to voices and perspectives from elsewhere (even when the elsewhere is here). Its mission is to connect some of the global dots regularly left unconnected by the mainstream media and to offer a clearer sense of how this imperial globe of ours actually works.

The Tom Dispatch offerings (which arrive in the form of email “Tomgrams”) are quite interesting and generally thought-provoking.  The one I received today …

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176096/tomgram%3A_ann_jones%2C_social_democracy_for_dummies/#more

… motivated me to comment.

Scandinavia Map

This is an interesting Tomgram discussion, primarily regarding the differences between how the U.S. and the Nordic countries (primarily focused on Norway) handle many aspects of modern life, most notably their national economic & social systems.

The author of the piece, Ann Jones, is an admirer of the largely socialist economic systems in place in the Scandinavian countries.  Many of the concepts she promotes are an anathema to my libertarian sensibilities — and I think she blithely ignores the fact that what works for small, largely homogeneous, countries like Norway (5.1 million people, roughly equal to North Carolina, in an area larger than Texas) would be orders of magnitude more difficult to implement in the U.S., which covers nearly four times the area of Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark & Iceland) and 13 times the combined population of those five countries.

Besides being a libertarian in my political views, I am also essentially anti-social and an iconoclast — I would not do well in the Norway Jones describes. Consider these excerpts from the Jones discussion of how society developed there in the 1970s:

“There, feminists and sociologists pushed hard against the biggest obstacle still standing in the path of full democracy:  the nuclear family. … the Norwegian state began to deconstruct that undemocratic ideal by taking upon itself the traditional unpaid household duties of women. Caring for the children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled became the basic responsibilities of the universal welfare state, freeing women in the workforce to enjoy both their jobs and their families.”

And:

“In Norway, mother and father in turn take paid parental leave from work to see a newborn through its first year or more. At age one, however, children start attending a neighborhood barnehage (kindergarten) for schooling spent largely outdoors.”

Both of those concepts (“deconstruction” of the nuclear family and starting school at the age of 1) are contrary to my personal views of how to best raise children. I don’t even like the current trend in the U.S. of sending kids to pre-kindergarten classes.

I also can’t help wondering how much of what the Scandinavian countries have accomplished with their social-economic systems has been possible only because they have been able to maintain a significantly insular existence thanks to their relatively isolated geographic location, the fortuity of the North Sea oil reserves (which are the primary reason Norway has a significantly positive export-import balance) and because, since the end of World War II, they have been able to essentially rely on other countries (primarily the U.S.) to insure their national security.

Have to admit that I also found the Tomgram tagline for the Jones article (“Social Democracy for Dummies”) condescending and offensive.

Despite my disagreements with the Ann Jones article, I highly recommend TomDispatch for anyone interested in current national and international affairs.  You can subscribe to the email service on the webpage linked above.

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FLA 77

More Zero Intelligence from our So-Called “Educators”


Recently proposed legislation in South Carolina would require schools to spend three weeks teaching about why the 2nd Amendment was included in the U.S. Constitution.

See:  http://bearingarms.com/lawmaker-wants-mandate-second-amendment-education-schools/?utm_source=bafbp&utm_medium=fbpage&utm_campaign=baupdate

Three weeks on the 2nd Amendment seems like a bit much, though a three week section on the entirety of the Constitution would be a good idea.  That, however, is not what prompted me to write this. Rather, it’s to comment on the underlying reason for this proposed legislation.

See this article:

http://blog.sfgate.com/sfmoms/2014/08/21/high-school-student-arrested-for-writing-story-about-shooting-dinosaur/

It describes a circumstance which can only be characterized as bizarre in the extreme. For one of his assignments, a 16-year-old high school student wrote a fictional “Facebook-type status report telling something interesting about himself” which read:

“I killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur. I bought the gun to take care of the business.”

For this, he was taken in by cops for questioning, while they also searched his locker and backpack for guns. None were found.

Police said that the student was “difficult” during questioning, so they arrested him and charged him with disturbing the school. He was also suspended for a week.

His mother said that she “understands the gravity of the situation”, but appears to have been referring to what her son wrote. The real gravity of the situation is that the school and police authorities so flagrantly over-reacted — if I was this kid’s parent, I’d be publicizing this everywhere I could, suing both the school and the police, and doing everything possible to have the school officials fired.

This is just one more example of why zero tolerance = zero intelligence.

The World’s Smallest Political Quiz and the “I Side With” Quiz



I am at the Libertarian apex on

The World’s Smallest Political Quiz,

which I consider a great little test.

The World's Smallest Political Quiz

The World’s Smallest Political Quiz

You can take this test at:

http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz/quiz.php

—–ooo—–

There is also a more comprehensive quiz available

on the “I Side With” website here:

http://www.isidewith.com/political-quiz

On this test, which is considerably longer and more comprehensive,

I ended up closest to the Libertarian apex,

but more centrist overall than I expected.

The "I Side With" Political Quiz

The “I Side With” Political Quiz

 —–ooo—–

For more information about the Libertarian Party,

see the website “Advocates for Self-Government” here:

http://www.theadvocates.org/

______________________________________________________________________

It is Time to End “The Insane War on Drugs”


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US Constitution 21st Amendment in the National Archives

US Constitution 21st Amendment in the National Archives

Today is the 80th Anniversary of the passage of the 21st Amendment of the United States Constitution, which repealed the 18th Amendment and the Prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the country.

Prohibition was surely one of the dumbest ideas in American history, surpassed in stupidity perhaps only by the current Insane War on Drugs, which has had many of the same ill effects as prohibition, only worse.

Remember Prohibition It Still Doesn't Work

Proponents of prohibition offered any number of justifications for imposing their religious & moralistic opinions on the rest of the country.  Among these claims were that prohibition would reduce drunkenness, reduce crime & increase respect for the law, reduce insanity, reduce child neglect & domestic violence, and reduce taxes (largely by reducing the need for courts, jails, hospitals, poor houses and insane asylums).

The Reverend Billy Sunday gave a speech at the beginning of prohibition in which he said:

“The reign of tears is over. The slums will soon be a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile and children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent.”

In fact, prohibition had exactly the opposite effect with respect to all of the projected “benefits”.  Most noticeably, prohibition significantly increased crime in the U.S., giving rise as it did to bootlegging and organized crime.  The number of serious crimes increased, as did drunkenness, disorderly conduct, drunk driving, theft & burglary, assault and even homicide.

The costs of fighting crime increased dramatically during prohibition.  Funding for law enforcement had to be increased rather than decreased. The number of individuals convicted of federal crimes increased 561% during prohibition.  Federal prison population increased 366%.  Federal expenditures on penal facilities increased 1000%!!

Infighting among the gangs organized for bootlegging resulted in 400 gang related murders in the city of Chicago in a single year, including the infamous St. Valentine’s Day massacre. 

St. Valentine's Day massacre

Prohibition made the Mafia possible and gave rise to some of the most famous criminals in American history:

Al Capone

Al Capone

Al Capone, Joseph Bonanno, Bugs Moran, Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Dutch Schultz, Tommy Lucchese and Frank Nitti, to name a few.

Did we learn anything from the experience of prohibition?  Apparently, not much.  Prohibition ended in 1933 — by 1936, all 48 states had enacted laws regulating the possession, use & sale of marijuana, which was blamed for an increase in violent crime and was touted by some as the “foremost menace to life, health and morals in America”.

Nevertheless, the federal government did not become involved in outlawing (rather than simply taxing) most drugs, other than narcotics, until 1965, when amphetamines & barbiturates came under a federal prohibition.  LSD was added to the list of prohibited drugs in 1968.

Then, in 1970, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (also called the Controlled Substance Act of 1970)  created the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and brought all drugs under federal jurisdiction.

Nixon Declares "War on Drugs"

Nixon Declares “War on Drugs”

On June 17, 1971, President Richard Nixon made it official, declaring a federal “war on drugs”.

Thereafter, a flood of anti-drug legislation, both federal and state, imposed more and more restrictions on drug possession, use and sale, while simultaneously imposing increasingly severe sanctions for such possession, use and sale.

What are the governmental justifications for prohibiting the use of drugs by American citizens?  Typically, they include that such prohibition reduces drug use & the resulting impairments, reduces crime & increases respect for the law, reduces child neglect & domestic violence, and reduces the financial burden on society of dealing with drug abuse.  Sound familiar?

And what results have these draconian drug laws accomplished?

Most notably, they have created a whole new version of organized crime and gang warfare, now international in scope.  We have once again seen substantially increased crime in the U.S. (with more than 1.5 million people a year being arrested for drug related offenses) and incredibly higher costs of law enforcement (more than one TRILLION dollars spent in the “war on drugs”).

Drug Raid

Drug-related gang activity, including turf wars, has resulted in a veritable blood-bath on the streets of many American cities (as well as in a number of other countries).  Property and assault crimes committed for the purpose of obtaining drug money account for as much as half of all such crimes in many cities.

Largely because of the “insane war on drugs”, the United States imprisons a higher percentage of its population (716 people per 100,000 population) than any other country in the world.  The next closest large country is Russia (484 per 100,000), while other developed countries have uniformly lower rates of incarceration:  Brazil (274), New Zealand (193), Spain (149), England (148), the Netherlands (82), Germany (80), Norway (71), Denmark (68), Sweden (67), Finland (60), Japan (54) and India (30), to name a few.

Libertarian Party

On the 40th Anniversary of Nixon’s declaration of the “War on Drugs”, the Libertarian Party issued a press release discussing why this “war” has been an utter failure and should be abandoned.  See Note 1 below for a link to this release.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)

In that release is a link to a report by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) which discusses in sometimes gruesome detail just what a failure the drug war has been.  See Note 2 below.

The Libertarian Party release goes on to say:

“Ultimately, of course, this tragedy is the result of our government’s refusal to allow people to engage in peaceful choices as to what they consume. Even if drug use were to rise upon a return to the American tradition of tolerance that existed before the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Act, our streets would be safer, innocent people would not have their homes raided and pets killed by narcotics agents entering the wrong house, victims of asset forfeiture laws wouldn’t have their houses and other assets seized without due process, and resources would be freed to spend on improving peoples’ lives instead of destroying them.”

It concludes with two planks of the Libertarian Party Platform:

1.0 Personal Liberty
Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. No individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government. Our support of an individual’s right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices.

1.2 Personal Privacy
Libertarians support the rights recognized by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. Protection from unreasonable search and seizure should include records held by third parties, such as email, medical, and library records. Only actions that infringe on the rights of others can properly be termed crimes. We favor the repeal of all laws creating “crimes” without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.

It is way past time to bring this insanity to a conclusion, to make law the Libertarian ideal that individuals have the right to choose for themselves whether or not to use drugs, to repeal all laws prohibiting the medicinal or recreational use of all drugs, and to release from our jails and prisons all individuals incarcerated for the possession, use or sale of drugs.

Doing so will mean having to overcome opposition from some segments of law enforcement (which derive significant financial benefits from the war on drugs), as well as the religious right and other moralists who think they should be able to dictate the actions & control the lives of others.

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  Einstein’s definition applies perfectly to the “war on drugs” and the time has come to end the insanity.

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Note 1:       http://www.lp.org/news/press-releases/libertarian-party-40-years-is-enough-end-the-drug-war

Note 2:       http://www.leap.cc/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Ending-the-Drug-War-A-Dream-Deferred.pdf

Note 3:       For more on the Libertarian view on ending the War on Drugs, see:

https://www.lpmn.org/libertarians_assert_powerful_case_ending_war_drugs/

Note 4:       For the complete Libertarian Party 2012 Platform, see:

http://www.lp.org/platform

Note 5:       The Libertarian Party website is here:

http://www.lp.org/

Bill Maher Just Plain Incorrect


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“Many years ago on a television network far, far away”, there was a show called “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher“.  I was a big fan, rarely missed watching and was sorry to see the show cancelled, though I have to admit that the comment which led to its demise went beyond politically incorrect to politically just plain dumb.  See Note 1 below.

I do not subscribe to HBO, so have not had the opportunity to watch Maher’s current show, “Real Time with Bill Maher“.  Thanks to a Facebook post by “Can this poodle wearing a tinfoil hat get more fans than Glenn Beck?“, however, I became aware of this “New Rules” segment by Maher regarding libertarians:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9PezT3n4To

One of the reasons I liked Maher was that he was a self-professed supporter of libertarianism.  As a libertarian myself, I usually found his “politically incorrect” commentary in tune with my political philosophy.  Apparently, however, as demonstrated by his “New Rules” on libertarians, Maher has deserted some of his libertarian ideals, no longer understands what drives the libertarian philosophy and/or simply can no longer recognize a libertarian when he sees one (or doesn’t).

As examples of “libertarians” who are ruining libertarianism, Maher cites Wisconsin republican congressman Paul Ryan and Kentucky republican senator Rand Paul.

Sorry, Bill, but Paul Ryan is mostly a flat out right wing conservative and not a libertarian at all — see this Mother Jones webpage for a 2012 venn diagram showing just how little overlap there is between modern libertarian ideals and Paul Ryan’s political positions:

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/08/paul-ryan-libertarian-chart

And Rand Paul is no Ron Paul; nor is he anything like real libertarians like two-time Libertarin Party presidential candidate Harry Browne or Judge Andrew NapolitanoSee Note 2 below.

In his monologue, Maher says he once supported libertarianism because he didn’t want “big government in my bedroom, my medicine chest and especially not in the second drawer of the night stand on the left side of my bed”.  (Exactly what do you keep there, anyway, Bill?)  Though professing to still believe in those ideals, Maher charged that libertarianism has “morphed into this creepy obsession with free market capitalism based on an Ayn Rand novel called ‘Atlas Shrugged'”.

Sorry again, Bill, but those of us who are still truly libertarians base our political beliefs on such foundational documents as the Declaration of Independence and (especially) the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution, not “Atlas Shrugged” (or any other work of fiction).  Ayn Rand, by the way, in “Atlas Shrugged” or otherwise, was no libertarian (and, contrary to appearances, Rand Paul was not named in honor of Ayn Rand — his first name is actually Randal).

Ayn Rand in her time was extremely critical of libertarians, and once explained that she disapproved of them because they are “a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people” and “perhaps the worst political group today”.  See note 3 below.

Anyone who wants to learn what modern libertarianism is really about can do so by going to the Libertarian Party website here:

http://www.lp.org/

… or by visiting the Facebook page of The Advocates for Self-Government here:

https://www.facebook.com/SelfGov

The Advocates for Self-Government publish a libertarian newsletter, The Liberator Online, the most recent edition of which is available online here:

http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=8f8d44f1fc10bd074f648a4de&id=6039093196&e=16f5dddde4

The Liberator Online is also distributed by email, for which you can sign up on this page.

And, to see if you are a libertarian, go here and take The World’s Smallest Political Quiz:

http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz

It’s just 10 questions (5 on personal issues and 5 on economic issues) and can be completed in a few minutes.  Perhaps Bill Maher should take it as a refresher course on what libertarianism really is.

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Note 1:  For a brief explanation of how and why “Politically Incorrect” crossed over into “Politically Stupid” and got cancelled, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Maher#Politically_Incorrect_with_Bill_Maher

Note 2:  For more on Judge Andrew Napolitano, see this earlier “Free Legal Advice” blog:

https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/lies-the-government-told-you/

and his own website:

http://www.judgenap.com/

Note 3:  For a detailed explication of Ayn Rand’s views on libertarianism, see this Q&A page on the Ayn Rand Institute website:

http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ar_libertarianism_qa