Friday, October 25, 2013

AND YOU THOUGHT IT WAS ABOUT TERRORISM

Touré, one of the liberal commentators on MSNBC's "The Cycle," is one of those lefties existentially unable to say anything bad about President Obama. Here's how he justifies the latest revelation that the NSA has been spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone calls: the U.S. needs to snoop on Merkel because it's vitally important that we know what Germany's policy on the Euro is. Seriously. Glad to see the Left is fighting for our civil liberties against an overbearing government!

Friday, November 09, 2012

ELECTION AFTERMATH

Well, i got all the states right except for Florida and Virginia. Not as good as Nate Silver, but not bad. One thing this election should have taught us all is that modern polling is extremely accurate, regardless of those people (mostly crusty right-wingers) who still don't believe them.

Congrats to Gary Johnson for running the best Libertarian Party campaign ever for President. His current vote total is 1,167,739, and he should come close to 1.2M by the time all the votes are counted. This smashes Ed Clark's record of 921k votes and is almost 2.5 times what Bob Barr got in 2008. He was also arguably the best candidate ever in terms of experience, likeability, and media savviness, and didn't have that crackpot streak that so many libertarians have. Whether he is willing to run again in 2016 and work full-time to grow the LP remains to be seen. Otherwise this is probably a flash in the pan and the movement goes back to irrelevancy.

For my fellow San Diegans: Bob Filner??? Really??? He has such a severe personality disorder he should be medicated before being allowed to leave the house in the morning. One of the most singularly unpleasant politicians I have ever seen, and that's saying something. I guess Democrats in San Diego are ok with gay baiting and violence against women as long as they can save their bureaucrats' bloated six-figure pensions.

The good thing about being a libertarian, or adherent to some other fringe movement, is that after an election, you can laugh at the misery of half the population. The bad thing is, you have to put up with the gloating of the other half. Now is the Democrats' time to gloat, until reality sets in. The Republicans should be in misery, but most seem to be trapped in denial instead. They seem poised to push even further to the right, becoming the "Stupid Party" that Alex Castellanos feared they would become. Libertarians must find a way to exploit this. Ron Paul is gone. Rand Paul and Paul Ryan are not libertarians, they are theological authoritarians on cultural issues. Someone must carry the torch for economic and social liberty at the same time.

Our electoral system is a mess. But so is our tax system, our education system, our criminal justice system, our infrastructure, and so many more. There are parts of America that still work, but we are coming dangerously close to total dysfunction in many areas. These problems can not be fixed with patchwork around the edges. I don't have the answers. But it seems clear to me that America is broken. More on what can be done in upcoming posts.

P.S. Sorry about the lack of paragraphs in the previous post! My settings got switched so that the default setting was "no line break."

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

ELECTION PREDICTION

My fearless prediction for the 2012 Presidential election: Obama 290, Romney 248. Unfortunately I fully expect to go to bed tonight not 100% sure who the President will be. A number of factors are lining up to make this another annoyingly delayed election result. RECOUNTS AND LAWSUITS. We all remember the Florida debacle in 2000. This year, a number of swing states could be extremely close, possibly triggering multiple recounts and lawsuits. Florida again, along with Colorado and Virginia, may be decided by less than one percent, and a handful of other states may be almost as close. Having elections decided by lawyers is decidedly bad for a democracy. PROVISIONAL BALLOTS. People deemed ineligible to vote in person, maybe because their names are not on the rolls, they show up at the wrong polling places, or they were already sent absentee ballots, may cast provisional ballots that will be counted only if the voters are subsequently deemed eligible. This throws another huge possibility for delay into the works. Ohio, for example, can not even start counting provisional ballots until November 17, and if the estimates of 200,000 provisional ballots being cast in Ohio are true, we may not know the winner of Ohio for weeks. HURRICANE SANDY. The good news is most people affected by Sandy should be able to manage to vote, and the affected areas are all strongly blue states where the outcome was never in doubt. But if the aftermath of the storm depressed Democratic votes enough in the Northeast, it could certainly help produce a split decision (see next paragraph). SPLIT DECISION. The chances are actually quite significant that, for the fifth time in our history, the winner of the Electoral College will lose in the popular vote. Most likely is an Obama victory in the Electoral College and a Romney majority or plurality in the popular vote. An Obama popular vote victory coupled with a Romney Electoral College win would be extremely unlikely. This is how our Constitution works, after all, but such a result would draw bitter howls from Republicans just as the 2000 election did from Democrats. A split would not be good for our country’s morale. ELECTORAL TIE. An exact tie in the Electoral College is also quite unlikely but not impossible. Taking my prediction above, for example, a shift of three states…Nevada, Colorado and Iowa…from Obama to Romney, would produce a 269-269 tie. Under the 12th Amendment, the President would then be elected by the House and the Vice President by the Senate, resulting in a Romney-Biden Administration. The late-night TV comics would have a field day, but in reality Joe Biden would get to do nothing much other than sit silently in Cabinet meetings and attend funerals. FAITHLESS ELECTORS. If there is a tie or otherwise extremely close Electoral College count, another factor may benefit Obama. A number of electors who have pledged to vote for Romney are actually suspected of being Ron Paul supporters, and could very easily vote for Ron Paul to make a statement. Nobody knows how many electors this might involve, or whether this could actually change the outcome. THIRD PARTY CANDIDATES. If there ever were a year when one or more third party candidates should be able to make a surprise showing and shake things up, it would seem to be this year. Especially Libertarian Gary Johnson, who I voted for, who might be able to make a significant showing in certain Western states like Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. Johnson is pushing for a 5% finish, which in his words would end the two-party monopoly forever. But don’t count on it…I have to realistically expect around one half of one percent for Johnson and less for the other minor candidates. VOTE COUNTING. Based on my purely subjective opinion, it just seems to me that the counting of votes and announcing of results has gotten worse, not better, over my lifetime. Expect that trend to continue this year. Voting results that should only take a couple hours to compile, given our technology, might not be complete until well after midnight. Even on the West Coast I expect a number of states to not be called until very late, and I am not staying up all night to wait!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

GARY JOHNSON FOR PRESIDENT

I have officially decided to endorse Gary Johnson for President!

Gary who? Not surprised anyone would ask. Gary Johnson is the former two-term Republican Governor of New Mexico and was actually the first GOP candidate to officially announce, but he has been completely ignored by the media and excluded from almost all debates. They say it is because he does not poll well enough to merit recognition, but Santorum, Huntsman and Bachmann regularly poll in the low single digits and still get press coverage. Not so for Johnson (or Buddy Roemer, who I’ll bet you’ve never heard of either).

Johnson fits perfectly with all the major libertarian talking points without obsessing over the crackpot ones. He was a spending hawk who wants to drastically cut federal spending. He also favors legalizing marijuana, allowing gay marriage, opening the borders to whomever wants to come to the US, and ending stupid wars that are not based on our true national security. And although he is economically libertarian/conservative, you won’t hear him making wacko speeches about the Fed or the gold standard.

Of course Governor Johnson will never win the GOP nomination. But now that California apparently has open primaries, I hope he stays in the race long enough to allow me to vote for him. I have also heard he might pursue the Libertarian Party nomination, giving me a chance to vote for him in November as well.

If I am endorsing Gary Johnson, I suppose I must clarify again why I will not support Ron Paul. I find Doctor Paul very endearing and hope he pulls an upset in the Iowa Caucus, not because I think he’d really make a good President, but because it would throw liberals and conservatives alike into a major tizzy! But I take issue with him in a few areas.

I consider myself a “libertarian” in the tradition of 18th Century liberalism, favoring individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and the rule of reason. I consider “liberty” to be the first principle and base my opinions on all issues on how individual liberty is affected. Ron Paul should more correctly be termed a “constitutionalist,” since he views adherence to Constitutional principles as more fundamentally important than liberty in the abstract.

Most of the time, libertarianism and constitutionalism get along quite well together. But we should not fetishize the Constitution of 1787 as if it were a perfect, immutable document. We all know that the document is not and was not perfect. It allowed slavery to continue until a civil war almost destroyed the republic. And there are some modern issues that were simply not foreseen at the time the Constitution was written that require more modern approaches.

One of the hallmarks of constitutionalism is states’ rights. People like Ron Paul posit a tripartite structure of the federal government, the state governments, and the people, among which power is shared and balanced, which theoretically allows more liberty than if there were simply one central government. And while this is often true, there are two problems with this approach. First, the existence of the states as separate sovereigns is merely an ad hoc construction; while the original colonies may have had attributes of sovereign states, it is simply not reasonable to treat the states as such today. Second, the states are still governments that can oppress people just as much as the feds can.

States’ rights theory allowed the continuation of racial segregation through Jim Crow laws for a century after the Civil War. States’ rights theory also allows people like Ron Paul to oppose the Supreme Court’s Texas v. Lawrence ruling and support the power of states to criminalize homosexuality, even while stating that anti-sodomy laws are ridiculous.

Unfortunately, this sacrifices individual liberty at the altar of states’ rights. A demonstrator being attacked by Bull Connor’s dogs and water hoses was not any less oppressed because it was Alabama doing it instead of the federal government. Lawrence should not have felt happy about being thrown in jail for having sex by Texas rather than by the federal government.

Strict constitutionalism and states’ rights theory also has led to some downright bizarre positions by Ron Paul and other libertarian and Tea Party supporters, such as the desire to repeal the 17th Amendment, which allows for popular election of Senators. The idea is that going back to letting state legislatures appoint Senators would allow the interests of the states (as that mythical third power center) to be better represented in the national government (since the “people” are represented in the House and the “federal government” is embodied in the President). This argument would be laughable if people didn’t actually take it seriously. Repealing the 17th Amendment would actually result in the people being disenfranchised, and in political hacks appointing fellow political hacks to the Senate for purely political purposes.

Unless guided first and foremost by a commitment to individual liberty, constitutionalism is insufficient to create the kind of nation that I would like to live in. And unfortunately, Ron Paul comes up lacking on several issues when it comes to individual liberty. While he advocates a live-and-let-live policy for the most part, his personal distaste for homosexuality and abortion leads me to fear that, given a conflict between my liberty and his constitutionalism, he would opt for the latter. (Still, this is not to say that he isn’t FAR better than the other Republican candidates except for Johnson).

At some point I will also explain why I do not plan on voting for President Obama again. I voted for him in 2008 to the surprise of many of my friends. But even though most of the Republican candidates make me retch, I won't be casting a lesser-of-two-evils vote for Obama this time around.

It speaks volumes to Gary Johnson’s difficulties that even in a blog endorsing him, I’ve written more than twice as many words about Ron Paul. Still, if anyone is reading this and wants a libertarian choice that he can feel more comfortable with, look up Gary Johnson’s positions and seriously consider his candidacy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

HAPPY ARMISTICE DAY

On this day originally set aside to commemorate the end of one of the most awful and stupid wars in mankind's history, when others will be praising those who we heap huge tax-supported benefits on as they use violence to uphold our government's misguided policies intervening in sovereign countries all around the world, let's instead remember what Ayn Rand said in regard to this day:

“If men want to oppose war, it is statism that they must oppose. So long as they hold the tribal notion that the individual is sacrificial fodder for the collective, that some men have the right to rule others by force, and that some (any) alleged “good” can justify it—there can be no peace within a nation and no peace among nations.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

THIS WEEK'S FEDEX CUP STANDINGS

I’m a casual fan of golf. I will occasionally watch a few minutes of a tournament on TV, although I do try and catch the final round of all the majors. It’s the only sport left where the players are all not certifiable a-holes. I know all the top players, and I almost always know what a player should do on any given shot (what club to use, whether to lay up, etc). I will admit that the arcane and obtuse rules baffle me. And most importantly, I don’t actually play the game. I seriously tried, a generation ago, but ended up throwing my clubs way too often, so I gave up for the safety of the general golfing public.

But there is one thing about watching golf on TV that drives me crazy…the FedEx Cup standings.

Apparently to increase interest, especially in these days of a weakened Tiger Woods, FedEx sponsors some kind of playoff or tournament in which players accumulate points over the season based on how well they do in regular weekly tournaments. At the end of the year, I guess there is some sort of competition among the top point-getters for a humongous monetary prize.

All well and good…except when the announcers talk about nothing but the FedEx Cup standings. You can tune into the Joe Blow tournament from Kokomo and some player will be lining up a putt, and rather than telling you where he ranks in the tournament at hand, the announcer will say something like “if he sinks this putt he is projected to rise from 89th to 64th in the FedEx Cup standings.” It is now common practice to show a player’s current FedEx Cup ranking next to his name almost as if it is a batting average or jersey number. Really??? Who cares???

I know that golf, like all pro sports, is all about corporate sponsorship. I just don’t want to hear the company’s name repeated over and over ad nauseum when it has nothing to do with the tournament I’m watching. And I know that there are similar “championship” events in other sports, such as NASCAR, but you don’t hear it mentioned every fifteen seconds during an auto race. Can’t we just enjoy the tournament we’re watching, and have the FedEx Cup standings compiled at the end of the day for anyone who cares? Analyzing the FedEx Cup ramifications of every single hole is statistically insignificant overkill and is obviously only done in order to saturate the airwaves with FedEx’s name.

Maybe the announcers get an extra grand or so each time they mention FedEx. More power to them, the pathetic shills. It just turns me (and the TV) off.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

CASEY ANTHONY ACQUITTED

With all possible respect for the deceased Caylee, I love it when the government loses a big one. And maybe the best thing that could come out of this would be if this destroyed Nancy Grace's TV career. That shrew made her name by sensationalizing this case for years, and now she is left with zero credibility.