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June 30, 2007

The Spy Who Didn't Love Me

Thanks to Paul Gessing for highlighting the confessed excesses of the CIA.

He wonders, however, about whether "the CIA [is authorized by] the US Constitution...."

Article I, Section 8 does allow Congress "To raise and support Armies....," so, broadly speaking, having defense intelligence seems perfectly reasonable to me. This doesn't justify CIA abuses, and perhaps it doesn't justify the current org chart that the federal government operates under. Still, the function of having intelligence on those who plot to harm US citizens seems well within constitutional bounds to me.

-Robert Capozzi

Posted by RobertCapozzi at 10:02 AM | Comments (1)

The CIA: Still evil after all these years

The recent disclosure of the CIA's "family jewels" elicits an outstanding rebuke from Justin Raimondo. The only problem I have is the term "family jewels." That would certainly imply that these are cherished items that have been held for the CIA for some time. The term "skeletons in the closet" or "dirty deeds done at taxpayer expense" might be more appropriate.

Of course, I don't remember the CIA being in the US Constitution....

Posted by PaulGessing at 12:50 AM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2007

Someone in cable "news" has a clue

I have always hated cable news. While the original expectation was that the additional airtime available on cable would be dedicated to ferreting out the stories the big three networks were too busy to cover, this has not come to pass. Instead, we have wall-to-wall coverage of such stories as Anna Nicole Smith and Paris Hilton.

While that cespool doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon, I felt a little heartened by this exchange between Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough on MSNBC in which Ms. Brzezinski refuses to lead with a story about Paris Hilton. As usual, Scarborough looks like an ass.

Posted by PaulGessing at 01:10 AM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2007

Private Dollars Lead New Orleans Recovery

This story is really not a surprise. Private charity has always been more effective at improving peoples' lives than government handouts and examples of this in reaction to Hurricane Katrina have already been widely reported.

What is surprising is that people are so easily fooled, so often, by government officials who say "we're going to help." Things weren't always this way. In fact, after every disaster, natural or otherwise, we should mandate the reading of "Not Yours to Give," an excellent Illustration of the way government has usurped and corrupted private charity.

Posted by PaulGessing at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2007

No Magic Wand

The Angry Economist says something I want to scream at certain radical libertoids:

Some problems are simply hard to solve. There is no magic wand. A free market can't solve them. Neither can a market constrained by the violence of the state -- although it will arrive at a different solution.


Posted by KevinRollins at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2007

More on Iowa, Ron Paul

Thomas Woods has an excellent explanation of the absurdity of the Iowans for Tax Relief excluding Ron Paul from their Presidential forum over at Lew Rockwell's site.

Ultimately, what this boils down to is that the Iowans who supposedly preach the "gospel" of tax relief and limited government don't believe their own rhetoric. They don't even believe the straw polls taken at their own (co-sponsored) conference that put Paul in first place among declared candidates.

What does this all mean? Simply put, "conservatives," especially those in the establishment and libertarians, at least the principled kind, are political enemies. In fact, nominal liberals like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, in part because they fall outside the establishment boundaries of correct opinion, have been more friendly to Dr. Paul than mainstream conservatives (like ITR) and even some establishment libertarians.

Posted by PaulGessing at 02:36 AM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2007

For peace and trust can win the day, despite of all your losing.

For Led Zeppelin aficionados, this short blog’s header is the closing lines for The Immigrant Song. Apropos, methinks, for my comment on Jonathan David Morris’s insightful column here on TFL.

My goodness this immigration debate can get butt ugly. While Bush and the Establishment’s “comprehensive” approach is probably an improvement, rightwing talk radio does have a point. If the US’s borders are so porous that literally millions are here illegally, that is a problem, especially when the schools and hospitals are jammed, and some of these illegals have committed violent crimes. These are not trivial matters.

Here’s my four point plan. Who knows, maybe it breaks the ice in DC:

1. Exit Iraq, redeploying resources and National Guardsmen to the border.
2. Double the immigration quotas.
3. Double work visas.
4. For show, “stage” a few high-profile roundups of illegals.

The implicit message would be to illegals: Go home, get a visa, apply to immigrate, and come back. Or, stay and run the risk of being rounded up.

Sometimes -- often -- almost always -- simple solutions are the best. The pols don’t seem to have gotten that memo.

-Robert Capozzi

Posted by RobertCapozzi at 06:06 AM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2007

Iowans for Tax Relief But Not Ron Paul

The Ron Paul campaign just sent out an e-mail saying that the Iowans for Tax Relief will not allow Dr. Paul to participate in a debate they are co-organizing with the Iowa Christian Alliance. This seems strange, given that Paul placed second in a straw poll conducted at the NTU conference this weekend. Anti-taxers are generally pro-Paul.

The NTU conference is co-organized with Iowans for Tax Relief. My guess is that someone in Iowa doesn't like Ron Paul. Who could it be and for what reason, one wonders. Dr. Paul's position on Iraq?


Posted by KevinRollins at 04:29 PM | Comments (10)

Us (Us Us Us Us), and Them (Them Them Them)....

And after all we're only ordinary men...

In re: Kevin Rollins's question on his blog Polarized Too Extreme, there are several answers, depending on the level of inquiry.

Yes, activism as it's generally practiced, tends toward an illiberal, partisan worldview.

But, no, it's not inherently so, IMO. Gandhi in India largely used a transpartisan, non-violent approach in advocating the obvious virtue that India should be independent. Martin Luther King's non-violent approach to consciousness raising around the obvious injustice of segregation was not "us and them" in tone and content, but rather we shall overcome, some day.

And, of course, Pink Floyd poetically had the model about right. "Us and them" is "not what we would choose to do."

-Robert Capozzi

Posted by RobertCapozzi at 06:55 AM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2007

See Ron Paul Wednesday

at the House Committee on Financial Services' hearing on "The State of the International Financial System," featuring Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. You can watch the live hearing on the Committee's web site.

Posted by NormSingleton at 09:48 PM | Comments (2)

Quote of the week

Comes from Brian Doherty:

"Ron Paul is the most energetic and consistent advocate on an issue of paramount political importance, especially to left-progressives—ending our involvement in Iraq. He’s willing to leave many controversial issues to states and localities. He wants to leave most of us alone to manage our own affairs, as either individuals or smaller polities. He’s a dedicated enemy of some of the most evil and repressive policies currently afoot in America. If America’s progressives can’t manage to give him at least two cheers, the fault lies not with their candidates, but with themselves."

Posted by NormSingleton at 09:47 PM | Comments (0)

Polarized Too Extreme

At a recent rally, Isis caught this image of non-transpartisan signage:

This is quite apparently the wrong message for anyone who wants Israel to withdraw from Palestine because the ultimate audience is Israel -- which has the power to implement the policy the protesters desire. This sign articulates an "us vs. them" mindset which is not at all useful if the purpose of the rally is to win hearts and minds. The willingness to be offensive and to immediately compare the opposing side to mass-murderers is reckless. This further cements my view that protest marches and rallies in general are tribal and non-rational.

Question for Free Liberal editors and bloggers: Does activism itself, by the nature of the discipline, tend toward an illiberal, partisan worldview?

Posted by KevinRollins at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2007

Ron Paul Making Waves on the Net

It is no secret that Internet users are more libertarian than the average person. Of course, those who have fully explored the 'net's capabilities are also more highly educated than the average person. These two factors have come to an interesting confluence as the mainstream media has begun to pick up on the Ron Paul phenomenon on the Internet. Check out the relatively complimentary article on Dr. Paul's tremendous following on the Internet in the Washington Post.

Posted by PaulGessing at 07:31 PM | Comments (0)

Free Liberals at the National Taxpayers Union Conference

The NTU conference is always a good time. John Berthoud and company provide valuable tools for activists, kick-butt parties, and great networking opportunities. Check out the pictures from the roof of the Heritage Foundation at last night's event.


Posted by KevinRollins at 03:21 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2007

Human "Capital"?

Strong agreement with my colleague Paul Gessing on his blog A Free Market in Education? David Brooks's assertion that "the market is failing to supply enough human capital," not only fails on Gessing's point (the education "market" is almost entirely controlled by government.) But, perhaps audaciously, I'd ask, Who's to say if there's "enough" human capital? Who's to say that formal education is the optimal way to develop human "capital," a term that is utterly squishy. I suspect Brooks means something more like "skills and abilities," but whatever.

Citing dropout rates from high school and college seems weak proxies at best for developing the workforce's skills and abilities, and weaker still for productivity. Most productivity measures that I've seen are improving, so Brooks seems to be making some rather major logic leaps.

And, of course, what are the reasons why drop-out rates have increased? Funding "education" more might be a case of throwing good money after bad unless there's good reason to believe that this is a resource problem.

-Robert Capozzi

Posted by RobertCapozzi at 06:00 PM | Comments (1)

A Free Market in Education?

David Brooks of the New York Times has never been my favorite columnist. I've never really thought that he "gets it" when it comes to limited government and personal freedom.

Recently, for example, Brooks wrote a column in which he called himself a "Hamiltonian." While I don't dispute his claim -- he's certainly no 'limited government conservative' -- another statement has me shaking my head:

If you are reading this column, you’re keeping company with somebody in group No. 2. We Hamiltonians disagree with the limited government conservatives because, on its own, the market (emphasis added) is failing to supply enough human capital. Despite all the incentives, 30 percent of kids drop out of high school and the college graduation rate has been flat for a generation.

Just when it needs a more skilled work force, the U.S. is getting a less skilled one. This is already taking a bite out of productivity growth, and the problem will get worse.

How exactly is the educational system in this country a "market?" The answer is it is not a market in any way, but a government monopoly with only a few inroads having been made by charter schools, private schools, voucher programs, tax credit programs, and home-schoolers. While these groups all are attempting to break out of the top-down, government education model, they are a distinct minority.

In other words, Brooks doesn't seem to know what the word "market" really means. If Brooks and other "Hamiltonians" want to create a better-educated work force, perhaps we should create a genuine "market" in education. Until then, calling it a market is absurd.

Posted by PaulGessing at 12:21 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2007

Reason author Clueless on libertarian foreign policy

It is no surprise that the folks over at Reason Magazine fail to understand the importance of Ron Paul's candidacy and the need for a non-interventionist foreign policy in general. Granted, Michael Young is one of the more clueless folks over at Reason and this article places his ignorance on full display.

Perhaps Young, like Giuliani, should get his own reading list: the Constitution would be a good place to start followed by anything he can find on

Young seems to think that the neocons were the only ones who had ideas to explain the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and that the left and libertarians had nothing by the way of explanation. This is patently false. After all, the Neocons were already in the Bush Administration waiting for something like 9/11 to happen. All they had to do was use their tremendous influence in the Administration to spin the facts in their favor.

The fact is that both left and right agree in this country that America has to "throw its weight around" and command the world as a hegemon. Anyone who has a problem with this is a pariah or even part of the axis of evil.

It would be nice if libertarians or writers for libertarian publications like Reason understood the benefits of non-interventionism, but perhaps that is too much to expect.

Posted by PaulGessing at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2007

Best line of punditry

regarding last night's debate comes from David Weigel's "real-time" bloging of the debate at Reason:

7:53: When it comes to the energy question, Paul is the only Republican on the stage.

Speaking of Reason, Senior Editor Radley Balko will be testifying Friday morning before the House Committee on Financial Services (on which Ron Paul is a senior member) at a hearing on Internet Gambling. You can see Dr. Paul and Radley explain why the federal ban on Internet Gambling is stupid and evil on the Financial Services Committee's website.

Posted by NormSingleton at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

Whole Foods, Monopolist?

Whole Foods recently struck a deal to purchase rival organic grocery Wild Oats. No big deal, right? It is a very big deal actually if you work for the Federal Trade Commission and you believe that consumers must be protected from a "monopoly" in organic grocery stores.

Leaving aside the debate over whether federal intervention to ensure competition in the organic food grocery sector is really a pressing national interest, I find the argument that the merger of these two companies is somehow "anticompetitive" quite unreasonable. If anything, the fact that Wild Oats has been losing money and yet was still able to find an interested purchaser implies that Whole Foods management sees ample room to grow the organics market and for new players to enter and expand their selections of organics.

In fact, prospects for growth and the obvious optimism expressed by Whole Foods might even spur other grocery chains like Kroger and Safeway to start doing even more in the organics sector...and where does Trader Joe's fit in to the discussion? Aren't they a competitor of Whole Foods?

The fact is that the grocery industry is highly competitive and (even after the purchase of Wild Oats) Whole Foods is a relatively small player, not a monopolist.

Hopefully the FTC will get a grip on reality before this gets tied up in court. Seems like another case of a bureaucracy looking for new dragons to slay when it might be better just to put down the sword.

Posted by PaulGessing at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2007

Ron Paul on the Daily Show w/ Jon Stewart

In case you missed it, Ron Paul was on the Daily Show (click for video) last night. If you are already familiar with libertarian ideas, there is nothing truly earth shattering about the video aside from the fact that those ideas are actually being spread to a wider audience. Also, unlike much of the mainstream media, Stewart actually gets past foreign policy and probes Paul about some of his domestic policy ideas.

While some may view Jon Stewart as being left of center, I am becoming more convinced every day that he is a closet -- if not outright -- libertarian. As I've previously pointed out, the Daily Show is actually a pretty good place to get your news.

Posted by PaulGessing at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2007

Brave New World Update

The nicotine Nazis have been busy in Europe. British doctors will now deny surgery to smokers unless they quit. Britain's National Health Service (NHS) claims that this is motivated solely by a deserve to improve the lives of Britain's smokers, the fact this will save the government money never entered their minds. Wonder how long it will be before NHS is refusing treatment to the overweight until they drop a few pounds...and what new restrictions on our freedom to make our own choices regarding smoking, eating, and exercising Hilliary, Obama and John Edwards have in mind as part of their "universal health care" plans?

Meanwhile, the EU is considering extending its' indoor smoking ban to doorways. No doubt the ban will soon be extended to all "public" sidewalks and roads.

Posted by NormSingleton at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2007

Terror debate

The media and other candidates are sure to use this weekend's arrests as a pretext to attack Dr. Paul as "soft" or possibly "anti-American" in Tuesday's Presidential debate.

Dr. Paul should note that it is too early for anyone other than a demagogue to comment on the case, as enough is not yet known. In noting such, he could cite the example of the so-called "Miami terror plot."

Recall the great fanfare which accompanied the arrest of the "Miami 7" last year. After court documents eventually came to light even such an establishment organ as the Washington Post had to report on the incompetence of the "plotters" and the heavy smell of entrapment about the whole affair. Short version: an FBI informant found a group of totally incompetent inner-city Jesus-freak potheads and only after he and another FBI informant spent months giving them tens of thousands of dollars, were they able to convince the accused to recite a kind of "disloyalty oath" against the U.S.

Don't be surprised to find out a couple of weeks from now that the FBI informant was the brains of the JFK operation as well. One of the recordings released to CNN this weekend featured one of the non-FBI "plotters" making the genius observation that bombing a pipeline connected to JFK airport would be as traumatic to the American people as executing the now-beloved Jack Kennedy, the man, all over again.

Posted by JamesPlummer at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2007

USS Liberty

If you've never heard of the USS LIberty, this week marks the 40th anniverary of the attack on the Liberty by a foreign nation. No, it wasn't the axis of evil or the Soviets that attacked us, but one of our greatest "allies" and a client state of ours that has received billions of dollars in direct subsidies from US taxpayers.

Posted by PaulGessing at 12:32 AM | Comments (0)

Free-for-all (frfr-ôl) -- n. A disorderly fight, argument, or competition in which everyone present participates.