Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Johnson and Weld: Not libertarians

Part 1 of "Candidates from Hell"

The 2016 American presidential election is, as one of my students put it today, "something out of a nightmare."  These are the worst candidates in my lifetime for the Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and perhaps even Greens.  I haven't followed the Greens closely enough to be sure, but for the others, these are bar far the worst I have ever seen.  I'm particularly disgusted by the Libertarian Party (LP) candidates, since I have almost always voted for the LP candidate for president.  The one exception was when through some quirks of state law and politics Ron Paul appeared on the ballot as the Constitution Party candidate in Montana and I voted for him instead of Bob Barr, the conservative who ran for the LP, despite not really being a libertarian.  But Barr was far closer to being a libertarian than the two leftist progressives the LP has inflicted on themselves this year.  Gary Johnson is definitely not a libertarian, and a fortiori neither is his VP candidate, William Weld.

I have been working on a post that makes this case, with citations and links, but it is time-consuming and I want to get this up.  So here's a list of position taken by these two that show they are decidedly not libertarians.  This is still terribly lengthy, but the destruction of libertarianism by pseudo-libertarians has long been a bugaboo of of ours and must be exposed.

Keep in mind that the primary political value for a libertarian is individual liberty, as defined by the co-equal natural rights of each individual.  Not all libertarians believe in inherent natural rights, but they do believe in these rights (E.g. utilitarians such as Ludwig von Mises and Friedric Hayek see these as useful rules we've learned that enhance people's well-being and foster cooperative society, rather than inherent rights.)

Johnson and Weld don't believe in these; they support such egregious, fundamental violations of rights that there's no sensible claim that they are libertarians.  Let's get started.

Gary Johnson:
There's plenty more, but that's enough to prove the point.  Gary Johnson is not a libertarian.  

William Weld is worse:
  • Weld refers to "so-called private property rights" and believes they don't give the right incentives for landowners to use land responsibly.  He thinks the federal government should be "more assertive" in managing land and imposing regulations.
  • He worries about "soft money" in elections and thinks the federal government should be more aggressive in restricting it.  I haven't yet found any reference from him specifically on Citizens United, but "improper" campaign financing is exactly why Citizens United was originally convicted of a felony...for simply making and showing a film that claimed Hillary Clinton isn't fit to be president.
  • Weld says eminent domain was improperly used in the Kelo decision, butin the Atlantic Yards case eminent domain was used properly and is perfectly fine, because it was used for legitimate government purposes: building gov't subsidized low income housing and a professional sports stadium.
  • Gun control: citizens should not be permitted to own handguns and semi-auto rifles.  [UC comment: what could be more jarring that the image of "libertarians" sending SWAT teams to raid homes and confiscate our firearms?]
  • George W. Bush was right to start a war and invade Iraq, and showed great courage and leadership in doing so.
  • For president, he endorsed Obama in 2008, Romney in 2012, and Kasich in 2016...the most libertarian candidates available, right?  Hah!
Johnson and Weld are not libertarians.  There's just no case at all. The points above are not small quibbles over nuances of libertarian theory.  Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, private property rights... these are not things one can jettison and remain a libertarian. 

Johnson and Weld: Libertarian candidates from hell.

I also welcome comments, and would particularly welcome a rebuttal from a Johnson-Weld supporter.  Remember, I voted for Johnson in 2012 and would love to be shown why my arguments are wrong and Johnson really is a libertarian.

Also, I plan to post my sources for these and additional positions of Johnson and Weld soon.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

America's 2016 Presidential Election: Candidates from Hell

"Happy Election Year, everyone!  What a wonderful time, to see democracy in action!  What a wonderful slate of candidates, all so qualified, each with the highest of character and such great ideas that no matter who wins, it's a victory for America, for our liberty, for our happiness, and for our prosperity!"

Imagine if this were true.  What a great thing that would be.  But unfortunately, it's not true...it should be true, but the actual case is almost the exact opposite.  Four the top four parties -- Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green -- these are probably the very worst candidates they've run in my lifetime.  If one of these four wins, the country, and the world, loses.  As Jonah Goldberg says, no matter what happens, this election ends in tears.

"We" at Unforeseen Contingencies recognize that we've been slacking in our duties; this is a crux time, the public craves light and guidance, "how are we to make sense of the campaign chaos unfolding before out eyes?"  Well, we shall be lax no more.  Unforeseen Contingencies is proud to present "Candidates from Hell," a series of posts on the job-seekers running in this year's presidential election.

And who knows, if we go far enough down the list, we might even find some who aren't dreadful scoundrels!

First up among our menagerie of devils will be Gary Johnson and his demonic imp, William Weld.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Losing a friend: Mike Fellows

Mike Fellows, Chairman of the Montana Libertarian Party and candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, died in a car accident last night.  He was returning from a campaign appearance in Seeley Lake MT when he lost control of his vehicle, striking another.  He apparently was killed instantly.

I knew Mike from his first days as an LP activist.  This was in 1980, when Ed Clark was running for president on the LP ticket.  Mike and his brothers (and me and mine) worked to help get ballot status for the party, something it has been able to retain ever since...often because Mike was a perennial statewide candidate and received sufficient votes to keep the LP on the ballot.  (Take a look at this accounting of his unflagging efforts from The Missoulian.  He was tireless.) Mike was a real libertarian, not a phony.  I don't think he was the most eloquent spokesman, but he understood the principles very well and he never compromised.  He was also friendly, very relaxed, and soft spoken.  He was a good spokesman for liberty.

He died in the cause of liberty.  Thank you, Mike.

Reason has a good piece lamenting his loss.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

9/11 Memorial

Today at Hillsdale College, a school where belief in freedom, respect for the lives of individuals, and love of the United States remain strong.  I took this photo during a 16 mile training run.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Steele on Pipelines

From the Coalition for the Expansion of Pipeline Infrastructure, for whom I've done some work. Enjoy!

Monday, July 11, 2016

It's All About Race!

Running a race, that is.

This past Saturday Julie and I ran the Beartooth 10K and 5K, on the Beartooth Highway (US 212) in Wyoming, just across the border from Montana.  The race begins at 10,500 feet elevation (just under 3200 meters) and runs uphill from there.  The start is in a saddle, so from the simultaneous start the 10K headed out east (more or less) while the 5K went west...first time I've ever seen a starting line with runners facing both ways.

When the race director blew her whistle for the start, I took off "like a shot."  I didn't think that was what I was doing; I thought I was jogging easily and I was well back in the pack, but after about 4 minutes of this I took my first walking break -- my first in a 10K ever, I believe -- to catch my breath.  The race climbed a steep grade for 2.5K to almost 11,000 feet, then turned around and back down to the start, whereupon we continued on the 5K course, another 2.5K climb up a steep grade (passing a herd of mountain goats) again to almost 11,000 feet, and then back down.   All of this was complicated by steady winds in the 20-30 mph range (30-45 kph) and plenty of switchbacks so the we got to experience both headwinds and tailwinds going both up and down.  Someone who GPS'd the course claimed it was actually 6.5 miles (10.5K).

The start uphill and into the wind was brutal.  In some ways, this felt like one of the hardest races I've ever run, because of that difficulty -- uphill, into the wind, at 10,500 plus feet.  And keep in mind I've run races of up to 100 miles over much tougher (but lower) mountain trails.  This had its own kind of toughness.  I loved it.  So did Julie, who "only" did the 5K.

After the race, Chaos and I did a three mile trail run down past Gardner lake (visible in the first photo).  Lovely.  Up high, the wind actually got much worse.  Julie stayed up high by the car, and when the wind picked up she aw it blow the glasses off a tourist who had stopped.  Julie and others helped her search, but without success.  She also saw a motorcylist who stopped remove and set down his helmet -- it promptly blew away, but he managed to chase it down.  It was really something.  Numerous baseballcaps are still floating around up on the plateau, I know.

The race was well organized and the running crowd was very fun.  The race director, Kristen Hollum, and her crew did an excellent job and were extremely helpful and fun to talk with.  We definitely want to return to this one (we met several regulars who insisted we come back, too).  We did train at altitude, but never made it above 8600 feet.  Next year, I think lots more time at 10,000 and higher is called for.  Besides, I love it up there.

Photos: click on 'em to expand.

Parking area/race start. Gardner Lake below.

10K course. The 5K runs to the top of the mountain on the left.

Locals watching the race (mountain goats).

Open borders!

Escape from Wyoming.

Free beer for all runners at Red Lodge Ales! (Julie doesn't actually drink beer, so I had hers.)

The murders in Dallas, continued.

Here’s a quick followup to yesterday’s post on the murders of police officers in Dallas, the phony war on blacks that police are supposedly waging, and the varying political commentaries on all this.  Daily Caller  has a few particularly worthwhile pieces today. 

A Big Report Proving the Justice System is ‘Racist’ is AllNonsense” – Blake Neff.  ProPublica analyzed COMPAS, a software program that assesses the risk of recidivism among criminals, and claimed its analysis found the software to be systematically biased against blacks.  The software is used to help make sentencing and parole decisions.  Daily Caller’s analysis shows, rather clearly, that ProPublica actually found the software does not discriminate against blacks.  However, after demonstrating this, ProPublica proceeded to commit statistical fallacies and add completely unwarranted “spin” (dishonest misinterpretation) in order to salvage the bias charge.  This one is definitely worth your time, as DC shows clearly how simple it is to deceive by misinterpreting statistics.  See the Philly cheesesteak example.  I call this intentional dishonesty because anyone familiar with statistical analysis knows these things.

Are Black People Targeted By Police? Here’s What The DataSays” – Alex Pfeiffer. The answer?  No.  Forgive him for not realizing “data” is plural.

First Black Miss Alabama: Dallas Shooter Is A ‘Martyr’” – Blake Neff. You see, it’s acceptable to progressives and the MSM for a black woman to say it’s OK to want to kill white people and police.  That’s what political correctness and multiculturalism are about – weapons to be used selectively against political opponents.  The left doesn't really believe this stuff.

I addition, on Bearing Arms,Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee lambasts Obama for fanning the flames of violence by stirring up black racism.  The clip is worthwhile.  A highlight:

“He should say nothing. Every time he opens his mouth he fans the flames of anti-police sentiment that is sweeping the country in these urban centers. He reminds me of a pyromaniac who sets a fire, then calls 911 for the fire department, and then returns to the scene to watch the fire department try to put out the fire.

"Murders in Dallas are payback for the epidemic of police violence against blacks." FEE

The Foundation for Economic Education, once a responsible organization promoting individual rights and free markets, now sides with the radical left.  Well, these are, after all, what Robert Heinlein called the "Crazy Years."

Humans have a lamentable tendency to think in terms of collectives.  It's bad enough when some attribute characteristics to groups that really pertain only to a small but unfortunately prominent subset (e.g. a white racist claims "all blacks are criminals," or a black racist claims "all whites are racists").  Attributing characteristics to a group that really pertain only to some, call this Collectivist Fallacy #1.  At least it can be "kinda" defensible, since generalizations about a group can have an element of truth to them.  So long as we realize they are generalizations and might not hold in any particular case, we haven't necessarily committed CF#1.

A far worse fallacy is when someone speaks as if the group in question has a single mind, Collectivist Fallacy #2.  A group is a set of people, each with a mind.  There's no group mind.  A single mind can believe or disbelieve, a single mind can want or not want, a single mind can choose one act or another, a single mind can bear guilt or be innocent,  A group cannot d any of these things, except to the extent that every individual in the group believes, wants, chooses the thing in question.  Groups can't have interests, only individuals can.  And groups can't bear guilt or responsibility, only individuals can.  Only individuals have minds.

With this in mind, consider one of the latest travesties to come from FEE and the "libertarian" movement,  Dan Sanchez, "Digital Content Master" at FEE, has written a remarkably collectivistic diatribe against American police officers, while paying lip service to anti-collectivism.  For Sanchez, the murders of Dallas police officers by a fan of the Black Lies Matter Movement was "blowback.."

Here's the problem.  Blowback is a negative consequence of an action, an intervention.  It is a retaliation, an unintended but predictable response to the intervention.  If A does something negative to B, and B responds by attacking A, that's blowback.

For example, many, including Sanchez, argue that Islamist attacks on the West are blowback resulting from foreign policy regarding the Middle East.  I think that's mostly wrong, but that's a matter for factual debate.  It's not an incoherent position, at least.  But contrast this with Sanchez's position on the assassinations of Dallas police officers by a black racist.  That cannot be coherently considered blowback.

How could this be blowback? There's no action, no policy, no choice, against which anyone could be "blowing back."  What policy choice is it? Who chose it? What the hell action is it to which Sanchez is referring?  Oh sure, he rattles on about "the epidemic of police violence against American blacks."  There's no such "epidemic" at all.  It's a fiction. In fact, only 26% of people shot by police are black, despite the fact that about 50% of murders are committed by blacks.  Should we conclude maybe police are shooting a disproportionately small number of blacks?  No.  Concluding that Sanchez is both a liar and an idiot would put us on safer ground.  It's also the case that the vast majority of shootings by police are against armed attackers,  The "epidemic" is an epidemic of sensationalized reporting of both justified and not justified shooting incidents.  Read the above links if you're skeptical.  "Hands up, don't shoot" was a lie.  Sanchez perpetuates it.

But never mind the phony epidemic, what about "blowback?" Sanchez treats police as if "the police" is a person, an entity, a single mind, who has chosen to treat blacks (all blacks, of course) a certain way.  Hence "blowback."  Sanchez commits Collectivist Fallacy #2.

Just to make this clear, when Tamir Rice stupidly threatened police officers with what appeared to be a deadly weapon, and one responded by shooting the dumb bastard,* that wasn't a decision by an entity "the police."  And when (unarmed) Walter Scott was stopped for a broken traffic light and then ruthlessly gunned down from behind while running away, that wasn't a policy or decision by "the police."  And when a black racist decided to murder whites, and especially white police officers, at random, as a response... it wasn't "blowback."  There was no policy decision that resulted in this alleged blowback.  By calling this blowback, Sanchez invents a mythical entity "the police," that has a single mind, made a bad decsision, and should have decided differently.  The disparate decisions by individual officers in Ohio, South Carolina, Missouri, Baltimore, and elsewhere, become, for Sanchez, a bad decision from a single mind, resulting in predictable blowback in Texas.  Bizarrely, he maintains this while lecturing us on the evils of collectivist thinking.  Sanchez should cease his collectivist thinking and quite ascribing guilt to abstractions like "the police" and "the state."

Keep in mind that policing in the United States is decentralized.  It is organized at the local, county, and state level.There's no real federal police force, and that is as it should be.  This decentralization means that it really is incoherent for Sanchez to write as if there's a national policy which has resulted in "blowback."  And decentralization of policing is also a problem for those who would like a police state. One of the things that Obama, Lynch, Clinton, Sharpton, et al. (elitist supporters of the Black Lies Matter Movement) clamor for is federal oversight and control of local police, that is, for further destruction of the federal system and separation of powers, and formation of a powerful central government, in place of the current federal government.  That's what libertarians like Sanchez are helping promote, another reason I think these "libertarians" who side with the left are dopes.

I'm a libertarian.  I believe in individual rights as the supreme political value and end.  So it pains me that there's such a dearth of intelligent analysis of the Dallas shootings by libertarians.  Today's libertarians exhibit a strange sort of envy of the left.  Heaven knows why, but as Gerald Russello puts it, they find it "[m]uch better to don radical-chic outrage against the police, than to support the police and the hard work of rebuilding inner-city neighborhoods where crime, sadly, remains concentrated."  Russello was referring to the left, but it fits Sanchez, and FEE, perfectly.

As a libertarian, it frustrates me that I have to go to conservatives -- with whom I differ on some fundamental principles -- to find careful. thoughtful, non-collectivistic application of principles to current events (actual, factual current invents, not made up ones like "the epidemic of police violence against American blacks").  But such is the state of things in the crazy years.

Here are some really good, thoughtful and fact-based, pieces that address the assassinations of police officers in Dallas:

"The Ferguson Effect is Real" - Gerard Russello.  Reviews Heather MacDonald's book "The War on Cops" and makes some cogent points in doing so.  I should mention I lived in David Dinkins'  crime ridden NYC.  It was nasty.  One acquaintance of mine took it upon himself to rid his apartment building hallways of criminals using a baseball bat and ferocious dog, because the police were ordered not to intervene.  Rudy Giulani's "broken window" policing strategy made the city much safer for honest citizens, but was much hated by the left and their libertoonist useful idiots.

"How to Address the Problem of Police Shootings" - David French. This is the most thoughtful piece I've read.  French takes the problem of unwarranted shootings seriously, without jumping to unwarranted ideologically driven conclusions.  This is the only way we'll ever move forward.

"The Attacks in Dallas Won't be the Last" - Jack Dunphy. Dunphy points out that a fraction of the American population actually celebrates the murders of the Dallas police officers, and encourages more...so more will occur.  Thugs like Barack Obama and Black Lies Matter promote, for their own political purposes, the lie that there's an "epidemic of police violence against American blacks."  Add Dan Sanchez and FEE to that despicable crowd.

*Footnote: After thinking about it, I wish to expand on my characterization of Rice.  Generally speaking, anyone who pulls a gun on police -- or on private citizens -- should expect to be shot.  I have no sympathy for Rice.  "But wait, it wasn't a real gun." Yes, but it was an Airsoft replica indistinguishable except by close examination -- handling it, basically.  And the orange barrel cap that distinguishes Airsoft replicas was removed.  There would be no way for police, or anyone else, to distinguish between that and a real gun.  Rice knew this.  "But what about his family -- don't you care how they must feel?"  No, I don't.  Had they reacted differently, I would have, but they self-righteously called for the heads of the police and pretended their delinquent was a victim, even though he threatened police.  They also sued and received money stolen from taxpayers.  I have no sympathy for them.  I do have sympathy for the police officers whom Rice threatened, who were forced to use deadly force to defend themselves, and then had their lives disrupted by the BLMM, the Rice family, the MSM, and similar scoundrels.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Comey and Clinton - One More Point

I have not heard anyone else mention this, but Comey's announcement reminded me greatly of the John Roberts and the SCOTUS decision in NFIB v. Sebelius.  The (losing) minority opinion, written by Justice Scalia, read as if it had been written as the (winning) majority opinion.  The actual majority opinion upholding PPACA (Obamacare) was written by Roberts.  And the legal reasoning in it made no sense, not even to the other four justices on the winning side.  Many observers suggested Roberts had been pressured by the executive branch to switch his vote at the last minute and concocted his nonsensical argument to rationalize the decision.  I think this myself.

Similarly, Comey detailed at length all the evidence needed to convict Hillary Clinton...and then proceeded to give a nonsensical legal argument to rationalize his position.  With a thoroughly partisan press, and absence of serious opposition, and an ignorant and gullible public, almost any nonsensical rationalization will do.

Postcript 10 July: Hard to believe, but FEE has published a defense of Comey's refusal to prosecute Clinton, or perhaps more precisely, an attack on libertarians who see this as a travesty of justice.  The author, John Hasnas, is purportedly a professor of law and business at Georgetown University; he teaches ethics.  Hasnas manages to raise exactly zero legal points and n facts of the case; it's simply that the state is not to be trusted so isn't it wonderful that it failed to prosecute an unusually powerful and well-connected person.  That's it.  From his argument, I think we can safely conclude that we should not be studying law and ethics at Georgetown, at least not with him.

At least FEE also published a piece that cites at length the relevant law and compares with the evidence presented by Comey, and concludes Clinton was not prosecuted simply because she's powerful and well-connected.  The author, Sean J. Rosenthal, is a real attorney, which explains the difference.

The American Catastrophe: Clinton, Comey, and Corruption

America's catastrophe continues.  James Comey's bizarre statement yesterday is proof of the open corruption practiced at the highest levels of our government.  While detailing instance after instance of Hillary Clinton breaking the law, Comey claimed to reasonable prosecutor would ever bring charges in such a case, because there was no evidence that Clinton intended to break the law.  However, 1) gross negligence, not intent, is sufficient for conviction, according to the law, and as Comey clearly stated, Clinton must have known she was handling classified material improperly, and 2) in fact, intent is easy to demonstrate: Clinton kept her server secret and tried destroying emails and other communications that are required to be part of the public record and were subject to investigation.  A few months back the Washington Post outlined roughly ten of the most serious potential charges against Clinton.  Frankly, it's hard to see how she could possibly have defended against them had she been charged,  Comey's refusal to bring charges means he's in violation of his oath of office.  Whether he was bribed, threatened, scared, or simply didn't want to face the furor that would ensue if Clinton were charged, he's corrupted himself.

But only a few days earlier, Clinton's husband -- also a target of the investigation because of his role in the Clinton Foundation' selling of American foreign policy -- held a secret meeting with Attorney General Lynch.  Subsequently Hillary Clinton suggested that if elected she might keep Lynch as AG, and Lynch declared that she would leave the decision whether or not to prosecute to Comey.  If one don't think this sounds deeply corrupt, one is either remarkably stupid or, more likely, prostituting one's judgement for partisan reasons.

This is awful.  The elite in power are now openly ignoring laws with impunity, and empowering and enriching themselves as they do.  We mere citizens could never do this, and we're facing increasing threats against our liberty from  government.

But there's more.  Republican majority leader Paul Ryan feigned outrage and suggested Hillary Clinton should lose her access to classified information... until elected, of course.  He even suggested that if Director of Intelligence James Clapper doesn't do this, Congress might even try to do it itself.  (Why does private citizen Clinton even have such access?)

What?! Right now, the House ought to be impeaching Lynch, Comey, and, for that matter, Obama.  Begging Clapper to do something?  That's not Clapper's job.  Ryan isn't following his oath of office, either.  There's no real Republican opposition, save for a few principled men like Ted Cruz.  Cruz directly challenged Comey's integrity and suggested that the FBI may be corrupted in all of this.

What about Libertarian opposition?  The LP candidates, Johnson and Weld, were recently interviewed by CNN and had nothing but nice things to say about Obama and Clinton (but were quick to condemn Trump).  Now Johnson has endorsed Comey's position; no issue for him in all of this.

Ugh.  Little as I like Trump, he makes more sense than almost anyone else purporting to be a leader.  He tweets: "Crooked Hillary Clinton is 'guilty as hell' but the system is totally rigged and corrupt! Where are the 33,000 missing e-mails?"

Absolutely right!

Some of the best, most thoughtful and logical analysis of this catastrophe is coming from the writers of National Review.  I highly recommend the following pieces in particular:

"Our Political Masters Show Their Hand" - Ben Shapiro.  This outlines chronologically the corrupt events.  Must reading.

"FBI Rewrites Federal Law to Let Hillary Off the Hook" - Andrew McCarthy. Brief and clear legal analysis by former prosecutor McCarthy on why Comey's position is wrong.

"FBI Director Comey Is Wrong: The Case for Prosecuting Hillary Clinton Is Strong" - Shannen W. Coffin.  More legal analysis from another former DoJ attorney.

"Hillary's Banana Republic" - David French.  Thoughtful analysis of the nasty episode and what it implies.

"FBI Recommendation on Clinton Betrays the Founding Fathers’ Legacy" - Tyler Arnold.  Finally, from Libertarian Republic, a very good analysis that notes Comey admitted he might prosecute a different person under these sorts of circumstances.  Damning.

Read these.  Then think about what all this means for the rule of law and for freedom.  And start thinking about how we are going to stop this kind of criminality.

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