Been inactive politically but it sure is on my mind tonight. So here goes:
My final installment for the Movement to Reform Libertarianism has been posted at: http://reformthelp.org/ As with the other parts, this one tries to take a modernist/pragmatic perspective while urging incrementalism instead of radicalism, in the pursuit of freedom. I don’t know how many other guys on the planet call themselves “militantly moderate” but I think it is about time! About time for millions of us to stand up... Maybe angrily, even a little (moderately) indignantly, to stand up for a way of life that has done a better job of delivering for humanity than all others put together.
** Later note: That site is now defunct, but you can find my collected essays on Libertarianism here.
In contrast to U.S. taxpayers, their counterparts in several European countries are experiencing a steady decline in income taxes. Their governments are lowering taxes on income and raising taxes on environmentally destructive activities — like burning gasoline or coal. Lester Brown explains the reasoning behind this tax shift. “he purpose of this tax shifting, as it is practiced in Europe, is to incorporate the environmental costs of products and services into the market price — and to help the market tell the environment truth. This rewards environmentally responsible behavior such as reducing energy use.” An article that’s concisely thought-provoking.
Snippets from Russ Daggatt: “Even thought W. still has almost 1000 days sitting in the most powerful position in the world, for all practical purposes his presidency is over. The Wall Street Journal reported this week his approval rating finally broke through the 30's to 29%. (This is down from 43% as recently as January. Congress's approval rating is even lower, at 18% -- Cheney territory. Only 25% think the country is headed in the right direction.) There have been a number of articles in the past couple of weeks saying that Rove's "strategy" for the mid-term elections (and, implicitly, the remainder of the Bush presidency) is to focus on a handful of the most divisive issues to "rally the base" and motivate disillusioned Republicans to turn out at the polls. This means one big negative campaign against the Democrats. "GOP leaders are gearing up to bring a number of issues on the Christian conservative agenda to the floor of the House and Senate in the next few weeks, including gay marriage, broadcast decency, the 10 Commandments Act, a cloning ban, and laws protecting "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance."
“Jon Stewart had a great take on the nomination of General Michael Hayden to head the CIA: It ends by showing Bush endorsing Hayden by saying that he is the "right man" to head the CIA at this "critical moment in this nation's history." He then shows Bush saying the EXACT same thing when he nominated ousted-CIA head Porter Goss. Goss, of course, was a total disaster at the CIA. At this "critical moment in this nation's history", Goss caused the biggest brain drain in the agency's history, causing senior agency officials with a combined 300 years of experience to leave the agency.”
As I have said, I am much less offended by the NSA gathering the largest database in history, a record of every telephone number that has been dialed by any other telephone number, across a span of years, than I am by the mind set displayed by those defending this action... One that the same people would never have accepted from, say, Bill Clinton.
Self-referential hypocrisy and the will to rationalize evasion of accountability, these are deeply and inherently human qualities that we observe in every past human civilization. They are sometimes part and parcel of great evil. But even when the people involved are sincere and good, these traits always, always, always lead to bad decision-making and bad statecraft. The enemy here is not Gen. Hayden, or even those who appointed him. The enemy is human nature.
Ben Franklin, John Locke and Adam Smith showed us how to rise above these flaws in human nature. We need public officials who understand that methodology. Not only because it is “good” and right - and Constitutional - but because it is ultimately smart and the only way that our side can prevail.
Moving on, this from Tim O’Reilly’s influential online “Radar” column”
London 2006, Meet 1984 By tim on May 14, 2006
Slashdot reports this morning on disturbing news from the UK, the front lines of the surveillance society, under the title London 2006, Meet London 1984: "Shoreditch TV is an experiment[al] TV channel beaming live footage from the street into people's homes. According to the Telegraph, U.K. television will broadcast from 400 surveillance cameras on the streets, into peoples homes. For now they are only showing it to 22,000 homes, but next year they plan on going national with the 'show'. They fly under the flag 'fighting crime from the sofa'."
1984 indeed. I don't know whether to be horrified by the rise of the surveillance society, or excited by the headlong rush to a future long imagined by science-fiction. There's a part of me that always regards news from the future with excitement, whether its good or bad, because times of change are interesting times, times when we are called on to act. David Brin's book The Transparent Society and Simson Garfinkel's Database Nation are both appropriate re reads in the face of this trend.”
Let me add that people wanting to explore this issue further should also google the phrase “smart mobs” and have a glance at www.e-sheep/spiders/ I am not, and never have been, a “nakedness radical.” I am perfectly aware how dangerous it may be to replace one Big Brother with six billion “little brothers.” However, as I look at failure modes of the past, I can only say that Big Brother had his chance to deliver human happiness, and has ALWAYS failed.
It is time to give “us” a chance to do better.
From Russ Daggatt:
“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” - John Fitzgerald Kennedy
"We don't have anything to say to Iran until they give up their pursuit of nuclear weapons." - John Bolton
Let's review the recent history of the relationship between the US and Iran. And because, as the Bush gang says, "everything changed on 9/11", let's start there. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the Iranians were cooperating with us to vanquish the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. But that all stopped a few months later when Bush in January of 2002 declared that Iran, together with Iraq and North Korea, were part of an "Axis of Evil". Then the US proceeded to take out militarily Iran's two hostile neighbors, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam in Iraq. We got rid of Iran's biggest rivals without extracting a single benefit in return from Iran. Wow. It's amazing what Bush was able to accomplish by refusing to talk with the Iranians. As a tactic, it proved almost as effective as refusing to talk with North Korea.
Meanwhile, this week Bush normalized relations with the main Islamic evil-doer of the Reagan years, Ghaddafi. The guy who blew up an American 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Remember, Libya?
"Libya is still regularly listed by human rights groups as having one of the world's most repressive governments. A recent survey by Freedom House, a U.S.-based organization that promotes democracy worldwide, placed Libya in the bottom five countries in terms of the free flow of information."
But Ghaddafi has oil and is eager to sell it. Cheney loves oil. Deal done.
"The administration is pointing to [normalizing relations with Libya] as a success story and potential model, except there's a small catch. "You need to have substantive talks for this type of tactic to work," former Secretary of State Colin Powell's one-time chief of staff told the Wall Street Journal. "But we have absolutely nothing going with Iran or North Korea." "
Finally, tomorrow folks in my district go to the polls and have a chance to send a message by electing a democrat from a solidly GOP district. The GOP candidate is a carptbagger professional lobbyist. Oh, if only....