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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: November 2006

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Libertarians: A Deciding Factor in the 2006 Midterm Elections

In this increasingly discouraging political climate, its very tempting at times to give up. As a Libertarian, it is becoming increasingly difficult to support the Republicans who have abandoned their principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility. Democrats are even worse because of their desire to grow government even more while eliminating the private sector to the greatest extent possible. Both insist on continuing this insane war on drugs at the cost of our civil liberties, our tax dollars, and the lives of many caught in the crossfire.

There are reasons why Libertarians and those who have many libertarian leanings to be hopeful, however. While the problem of big government and government intrusion in the lives of citizens will likely get worse before it gets better with the Democrats holding one branch of government hostage for at least two years, liberty-minded voters sent the Republicans a message.

Montana, not exactly a blue state, is perhaps the state where the message was shouted the loudest. In Montana, the incumbent Senate Republican Conrad Burns was defeated by his Democrat challenger John Tester by less than 3,000 votes. The Libertarian candidate Stan Jones received 10,324 votes. The conventional wisdom is that roughly two-thirds of Libertarian vote would otherwise go to Republicans. To put it yet another way, had as much as a third of Jones’ votes gone to Burns, Burns would have retained his senate seat and the Republicans would still hold the senate!

The role of the Libertarian voter resulting in the house and senate defeats of 2006 is part of a trend of Libertarian dissatisfaction with the Republican Party over recent years. David Boaz and David Kirby released a report in October of 2006 for the CATO Institute titled “The Libertarian Vote” [pdf]. Boaz and Kirby studied voting trends from 1972 to 2004 of how Libertarians voted. The report accurately predicted that the Republicans would lose in 2006 if the trends held (apparently they did). What they found should persuade campaign strategists for both parties to actively court Libertarian voters by adopting at least part of the Libertarian agenda. If the Republicans failed to hear the message from the voters in this last midterm election, they should not miss the results of the last two presidential elections. The report found that George W. Bush received 72% of the Libertarian vote in 2000 with Al Gore receiving 20%. In 2004, Bush managed to be the preferred choice of Libertarians but by a smaller margin with 59% to John Kerry’s 38%. These same trends held true in the congressional races in those years.

The report also challenges the conventional wisdom that the Libertarian vote is insignificant compared to other voting blocs. Politicians seek out the ‘soccer moms,’ the ‘NASCAR dads,’ and the so-called ‘values voters’ but show little interest in the Libertarian vote. Gallup polls consistently show the Libertarian vote to be somewhere around 20% but Boaz and Kirby use a lower figure estimating the number to be between 9-13% or 28 million Americans of voting age (You could be a Libertarian and not even realize it. Take this quiz and find out). While this may be too small of a number to have a successful third party movement, it is a significant enough number to make a difference in elections; particularly in close elections decided by thousands or even hundreds of votes. The Libertarian voting bloc is larger than both the soccer moms and NASCAR dads combined and almost as large as the Christian Right. The remaining constituent groups are dwarfed by the Libertarian and Christian Right voting blocs.

While Libertarian voters are idealistic, most are not naive enough to believe that the Libertarian candidate will actually win in any given election of consequence. The Libertarian vote, more than anything else, is a protest vote. In this case, the protest was against the excesses of the party that claims to be the party of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and individual rights: the Republican Party. Naturally, many Republicans such as Michael Medved are angry at Libertarians for ‘throwing away their votes’ or ‘taking the votes away from Republicans’ (as if Republicans have a right to the Libertarian vote or even the conservative vote for that matter!).

The Republicans hoped they could hold on to power by default despite their leftward slide of recent years. They hoped that their we-are-not-as-bad-as-the-Democrats campaign would be enough to persuade Libertarian voters to overlook their capitulation to the Christian Right, endless assaults on personal freedom (i.e. the internet gambling ban and their push to desecrate the constitution with gay marriage and flag burning amendments), and record government discretionary spending.

The Republicans have a choice: they can be angry, ignore us, and find themselves on the losing end of future elections or they can embrace us, recommit to their principles of limited government, and find themselves back in power. The ball is in their court now, what they will do with it is completely up to them.
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Friday, November 10, 2006

Fearless Philosophy’s Second Blogiversary

Two years ago on this day November 10, just a few days following the presidential election I wrote my inaugural post for Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds. Two years later, in the aftermath of the 2006 midterm election, there are very many issues I will get into to kick off the third year of this blog’s existence. For the purposes of this post, however; I would like to take a look back at some of the issues I wrote about in the past year and take the time to thank my fellow bloggers, the readers, and everyone who has taken the time to comment on my posts in the past two years.

When I marked the first blogiversary this time last year, my hit counter was approaching the 7,800 mark. As I look at the counter today, the number of hits is approaching the 24,900 mark, nearly 17,100 more hits than in the first year! This is a little surprising to me because most posts receive little or no comments but apparently, there are people out there reading my work.

Comparatively speaking, I am very aware that this blog is not very well known. In the TTLB Ecosystem Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds is ranked 2252 as I write this (an ‘Adorable Rodent’) as far as links go. While I would like to make my way back up to the next level, I am very happy with the level of readership I have earned so far. I owe much thanks for the exposure I have received mostly to my friends in the Life, Liberty, Property community, Buzz Brockway’s Fair Tax Fans community, Centrerion, the Bacon Eating Atheist Jew, Rene Aste at Up on Christian Hill (btw, congratulations on the birth of your baby boy!), and others who have linked to this blog. These are bloggers who are very diverse in their opinions, many of which are different than my own, but have seen enough value in my writing to pass along a link to my blog to their readers.

I want to also take a moment to thank my wife Aimee for continuing to put up with this hobby of mine and for proofreading my posts. Thanks to you my posts contain far fewer spelling and grammatical errors.

In the past year, I have presented a few new topics as well as revisit a few topics from the first year. I started year two the way I did in my second post of year one concerning the war on drugs but more specifically with the problem of mandatory minimum sentences. This would be the first of many posts I would devote to the war on drugs (directly or indirectly); in later posts I fisked a blogger who favors the war on drugs, introduced The Plight of Cory May (Update I, Update II), and wrote about the ‘collateral damage’ associated with paramilitary style police raids (Part I, Part II).

The war on drugs is a violation to the most fundamental rights of life, liberty, and property. John Locke was one who we can credit to be among the first to advocate these rights, therefore; I saw it fit to honor his memory as the first of in my Fearless Philosophers series (to date, the only one in the series I have written so far). I was very pleased with the responses this post received.

By January 2006, I wrote about my views on the war against Islamofascism. I weighed in on the ‘torture’ debate, took a look at the role religion plays in this conflict in my book review of Sam Harris’ The End of Faith, reacted to the thwarted terrorist attack on August 10th, and was inspired by the writings of Irshad Manji, one Muslim woman who is speaking out at great personal risk for reform in her faith. Beyond the Islamofascists’ terrorist tactics of the past year, the civilized world experienced threats to free speech. This was the year that Islamofascists rioted and threatened a Danish newspaper for publishing cartoons that were critical of Islam. Even American newspapers feared publishing the cartoons because of fear of a backlash by Muslims. This prompted me to ask the question: Can Mysticism Co-Exist with Reason and Liberty?

I never expected that I would write about such reoccurring themes but I think each post presents a unique angle on some complex issues. Other topics I blogged about were the problem of teacher’s unions, illegal immigration, a free market solution to lower gas prices, introduced 10 Terms and Phrases to be Wary of, analyzed the state of property rights on the one year anniversary of Kelo (and the news isn’t all bad either), responded to some very un-P.C. dating advice, wrote a treatise on treaties, challenged the notion that Christian Conservatives are simply ‘just protecting marriage’, made a personal attack ad against myself, debunked a misleading campaign ad about a supporter of the Fair Tax, found two G.O.P. ads that they were too afraid to run, weighed in on Rush Limbaugh’s comments about the Michael J. Fox political ad and the media reaction that followed, and gave John F’ing Kerry a fisking for his comments about the troops.

Yes, it has been quite an eventful year. I would like to open the comments thread to readers who would like to comment on any of the topics I brought up in the last two years. Sometimes I read an old post on a blog and would like to comment but don’t because the author has long since moved on. Also, I am very curious about what some of your favorite (and least favorite) posts were and why. Even if I have failed to respond to your comments in past posts, please know that I enjoy reading them and appreciate them.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention another blogiversary of one of my all time favorite bloggers- Brad Warbiany. Brad’s blog The Unrepentant Individual is also in its second year (was created exactly one day before my blog!). Brad has adjusted his focus somewhat to college football and brewing homemade beer (entirely too much work for me) but if you are looking for some great writing on liberty, individualism, and other classical liberal themes, be sure to check out the other blog he contributes to: The Liberty Papers.
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Select One

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Monday, November 06, 2006

The Role of the Federal Government in Scientific Research

Last week I wrote an email to two of my favorite talk hosts Larry Elder and Neal Boortz asking them each a question on the role of government in scientific research. I happen to respect these hosts more than others because of their libertarian leanings and because both have practiced law. Because they are both attorneys they have a greater understanding of the law than the average commentator. This knowledge is demonstrated daily on their respective shows. Much to my delight and surprise, Larry Elder responded with an answer to my question. This is the question I emailed to Elder:

Dear Larry:

As a Libertarian and Elderado, I have been struggling with the constitutional question regarding government funding of scientific research. Because I consider you an authority on such topics, I hoped you could help me out. This part specifically of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution seems to be a grey area:

“The congress shall have the power…To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries”

My understanding of this is that federal funding of scientific research is legally perfectly permissible. Otherwise, on what basis could the government create a program such as NASA? I thought I would bring this to your attention because of the embryonic stem cell debate.

This is the response I received from Larry Elder:

Dear Stephen:

Thanks for your letter.The way I interpret this constitutional amendment is: the Founding Fathers authorized Congress to protect the original writings and discoveries through the Patent and Trademark Office. It does not authorize government to fund research.

Sincerely yours,
Larry Elder

I responded back:

Thank you Larry! I didn’t think I would actually get a response from you but I appreciate it. I think your interpretation makes perfect sense.

And there you have it: one libertarian lawyer’s opinion on government’s role in scientific research. I would like to once again thank Larry Elder for responding to my question. At this time, I would like to open the comments thread to anyone who has an opinion on Mr. Elder’s constitutional interpretation (especially those who work in the legal field).

Books by Larry Elder:
The Ten Things You Can’t Say in America – A must read!
Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies, and Special Interests that Divide America- Haven’t read it yet, but definitely will someday.

Documentary by Larry Elder:
Michael & Me- Debunks many of Michael Moore’s assertions in Bowling for Columbine. If you have friends who are in favor of additional gun control laws, this movie might well change their minds. If you support the right to keep and bear arms as recognized in the Second Amendment, your beliefs will likely be strengthened even more. Michael & Me is as entertaining as it is informative.
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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Fisking John F’ing Kerry

Like many Americans, I find John Kerry’s remarks presumably aimed at our soldiers fighting in Iraq disgusting. In case you have not heard or seen Kerry’s comments, here they are:

“You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

With the aid of the MSM, Kerry has since made public what he claims to be his intended comments:

“Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush.”

Whichever way he intended to deliver this ‘joke,’ both are idiotic and neither are funny.

Now the good senator from Massachusetts, rather than apologizing, wants to blame anyone who ‘misconstrued’ his remarks as being an insult towards the troops as people who want to ‘smear’ or ‘swift boat’ him. His comments (found on his own website) he used to defend his remarks are ripe for a fisking.

“If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy.”

Crazy? Senator, your explanation might be believable if this was the first time you and your friends in the Democrat Party made disparaging remarks about our troops. During the Winter Soldier investigations, you accused your fellow veterans of committing war crimes. When you ran for congress in 1972, you said: "I am convinced a volunteer army would be an army of the poor and the black and the brown." [pdf] (h/t Journal-Advocate). More recently, you charged that our troops in Iraq were terrorizing Iraqi families ‘in the dark of night’. Your friend Dick Durbin compared our troops at Gitmo to Nazis (among other things). Your sycophants in the media such as Bill Maher, Richard Belzer, and on Air America have also made comments similar to how I interpreted yours that people who join the military are either poor or uneducated or both. If your comments were truly misunderstood, you only have yourself to blame.

“This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.”

Give me a break senator. Do you really expect that when you make a profoundly stupid statement that your political opponents are going to let it go? You and your cronies on the left jump on every gaffe the president or everyone else who opposes you makes. This is politics. Politics are not for the faint of heart. This is part of the culture that you have helped cultivate. If you don’t want to be criticized, join the Red Cross. And as to your chicken hawk argument? I refuse to dignify it with an answer because it is not worthy of a serious response. As this photo indicates, some of our soldiers in Iraq also misinterpreted your comments. Maybe its because they joined the military instead of studied hard.

“I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.”

Republican hacks who have never worn the uniform? How about the person you wanted to be your running mate in 2004, John McCain? Beyond that, the fact that you once wore the uniform does not give you carte blanche to make irresponsible statements about our soldiers without being called on it by others who did not wear the uniform. And about this ‘lying about Iraq’ business. Do you include yourself among Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Wesley Clark, and others those who ‘lied’ about the presence of WMD in Iraq leading up to the war? Refresh my memory senator but did you not vote in favor of going into Iraq?

“The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it.”

Bravo Senator Kerry! You managed to somehow tie Hurricane Katrina into your argument. I am very impressed! Once again senator, if President Bush mislead us into Iraq, so did you and much of the international intelligence community. Its very shameful how you accept no responsibility for any of your own actions. As to the policy that is killing and maiming our soldiers? This is an unfortunate fact of war, whether the policy is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or if it’s a popular war or not.

“Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they’re afraid to debate real men. And this time it won’t work because we’re going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq.”

Okay senator, I understand that the Republicans have a ‘failing’ strategy in Iraq but riddle me this: what is YOUR strategy for VICTORY? I have yet to hear one from you or any prominent members of your party. Its perfectly fine to criticize Bush’s strategy in the war on Islamofascism, I have my own problems with it. But you should try to be part of the solution rather than the problem. Much of the blame for the problems in Iraq should properly be laid at your feet and others who have done nothing but undermine the mission. If you have a better idea, speak up (Hint: saying that you will fight the war ‘tougher and smarter’ will not cut it).

I see that you have made yet another attempt at an apology on your website. You should thank the media and us bloggers for helping you get your message out. Otherwise, your apology would go unnoticed (is it really that difficult to call a press conference and verbally issue your apology?) This is probably the most we can expect out of you. You still don’t get it do you Senator Kerry? You can’t even make an apology without blaming others for their ‘misinterpretations.’ We are all just too stupid to understand what you really meant. Maybe you should bone up on your communication skills so that you can more effectively communicate with us ‘common people.’


When I published this post yesterday, I purposely decided not to respond to one of Kerry’s attacks concerning body armor for the troops because I was not sure of the facts. Now that I have done some digging, I have found Kerry’s charges about the G.O.P. run government not providing body armor for the troops to be false.

Here is the part of Kerry’s response I originally left out of this post:

“These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.”

In light of this charge, I decided to do a search on the non-partisan This nugget of information I would like to share:

This is a nasty tactic – accusing an opponent of playing with the lives of American troops – and both sides have stooped to it. This line of attack actually began with Republicans in 2004, when President Bush's campaign repeatedly accused his Democratic opponent John Kerry of voting against body armor.

We de-bunked Bush's claim at the time, but now there is even less excuse to make such an accusation because later investigations have made it clear that the initial shortage of up-to-date body armor was not the result of any vote in Congress, but instead was a classic supply-chain foul-up. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office laid the shortage to the inability of manufacturers to meet the Pentagon's sudden increase in demand, and logistical mistakes by the Pentagon in getting the gear shipped to Iraq and distributed.

There is a lot of other good information in the article (including a complete timeline beginning in 1941) that you should read so that you are prepared the next time politician X accuses politician Y of not providing body armor for the troops.

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