Reason’s Challenge to “Libertarian Democrats”

Earlier today I had a post on Glenn Greenwald’s article in Salon on Democrats and libertarian-minded voters. Reason’s Hit and Run blog makes a couple of excellent points for Democrats who really seek votes from libertarians (even if very small-l libertarians):

Welcome as their talk on libertarian Democrats may be, I doubt Greenwald or Kos is going to waste any political capital to raise objections if, for example, Hillary wins the nomination, and includes in her platform promises to expand the FCC’s indecency jurisdiction to cable TV, imposing a federal ban on advertising sugary foods to children, or on alcohol advertising at college sporting events — to name just a few examples.

I can’t speak for other bloggers, but my posts on Hillary Clinton haven’t exactly been supportive of her, especially in light of her previous health care proposals. Of course my concern is for principles and not necessarily victory for a particular party, while many liberal bloggers do see themselves as supporters of the party itself. I supported Democrats in this election, but so did Reason. If a real life Arnold Vinick was the Republican’s nominee there is an excellent chance I’d vote for him over the Democrat. Should Rudy Giuliani run against Clinton I’d have to take a closer look at both before deciding. At the moment I’d probably lean towards Giuliani (for the reasons many Republicans oppose him) if not for his speech at the GOP Hate-Fest in 2004 and if not for a preference for having a Democrat pick the next Supreme Court Justices.

The more important objections from Reason involve issues, as they correctly note that “there’s more to the personal freedom side of libertarianism than gay rights and abortion.” Here’s their challenge to liberals:

What I’d really like to see from the libertarian Democrat crowd is some offense. Instead of promising not to do any more damage to personal liberty, why not try to win some back? How about cutting off funding for the DEA’s jack-booted marches into California’s medical marijuana clinics? While you’re at it, snip the purse strings for the agency’s persecution of pain specialists, too. And remove the federal ban on scientific research into the possible health benefits of marijuana. Revoke the Internet gambling ban, or — even better — legalize online wagering to eliminate any ambiguity. Repeal federal asset forfeiture laws. Repeal the federal minimum drinking age and the national .08 blood-alcohol standard. De-fund the FCC’s war on dirty words, and the DOJ’s war on dirty pictures. I could go on.

No problem with most. I’ve already been with them on these issues. I’ve had posts here opposing the drug wars. When David Friedman suggested Democrats support legalization of medicinal marijuana I posted in support. I would have qualms about repealing the minimum drinking age, but I’ll just defer on that unless it should actual come on the table politically. One problem with libertarianism is that it works much better among rational adults. I’ve even seen libertarian writers note the problem with extending their positions to children. Besides, the point isn’t that liberal Democrats are libertarians, but whether they have more to offer libertarians than the Republicans many have supported in the past.

Sun-Sentinel Stands Up For Kerry

I’ve seen far too many post-election commentaries believing that Kerry’s chances for 2008 are finished following the manner in which the right wingers twisted his comment on George Bush getting us stuck in Iraq. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has published this defense of John Kerry:

It has become very tiring, reading the letters of people who believe John Kerry was disparaging our troops. If those angry writers had listened to the comments he made before his so-called gaffe, they would have realized Kerry was trying to make fun of President Bush, not our armed forces.

To me, this uproar is just another example of the continuing dumbing-down of America. Many of us just don’t get it. Are we so ill-informed that we can’t tell when a bad joke is uttered? Kerry was attacking President Bush’s lack of intelligence and warning the students how stupidity could lead to bad decisions. If you don’t do your reading or study history, you might wind up in Iraq.

Maybe a bad joke. Perhaps he should have said, “You might wind up leading the country into an unnecessary war, like Iraq.” Maybe not too funny, but this was really the point of the comments.

I’m sure Kerry didn’t apologize immediately because he couldn’t believe that his joke could be so misconstrued. All the political broadcasting pundits knew where Kerry was going with his remarks. President Bush and his cohorts, with no hope of saving their incompetent, corrupt administration, jumped at a last chance to denigrate Kerry and make it appear that Democrats don’t care about our troops. What a sad attempt!

It’s time to end the discussion about Kerry and what he meant to imply. It’s sad that many of us don’t know the difference between slander and joking. Let’s all get serious and work to end the mess in Iraq and bring our troops home.

Crackdown on OxyContin Increases Heroin Use

The war on drugs isn’t going all that much better than the war in Iraq. Reuters provides this information from a Justice Department report (hat tip to Majikthise):

A crackdown on illegal use of prescription narcotics like the powerful painkiller OxyContin has caused some addicts to switch to heroin, a Justice Department report said on Wednesday.

The report by the department’s National Drug Intelligence Center identified the main drug threats in the United States for the coming year.

“In some areas, such substitutions among prescription drug abusers have been widespread, creating new challenges for local law enforcement and public health agencies compelled to address a widening local heroin user population,” it said.

The study also found rates of pharmaceutical drug abuse, including pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives, exceeded that of all other drugs, except marijuana.

Don’t those Republicans who support the war on drugs realize that the free market cannot be stopped from supplying people with the goods they desire?

The Libertarian West

Glenn Greenwald has an article at Salon on the western states which are rejection the social conservativism of the Republicans:

Put another way, the successful campaign to defeat the Arizona referendum was based on a generalized libertarian aversion to governmental intrusion into the private sphere, rather than support for gay marriage per se. And therein lies the most significant lesson to be drawn from the weakening support for these referendums in 2006 — namely, the rejection by Western states of the activist social conservative agenda that has fueled the Republican Party’s dominance of the South.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that evangelical social conservatism as a political doctrine sharply conflicts with the libertarian political ethos of the Mountain West. In South Dakota, for example, only 17 of 66 counties voted against the gay marriage ban, but 11 of those counties were west of the Missouri River, where the Great Plains begin to become Badlands and the Midwest turns into the West. “As you move west, voters tend to be less evangelical and more libertarian,” said Jon Schaff, who teaches at Northern State University in South Dakota. “They’re saying they simply want government to leave them alone.”

Down in Arizona, the social conservatives who backed that state’s marriage ban had a similar experience. Cathi Herrod, spokeswoman for Arizona Proposition 107, told the Baptist Press: “We’re a Western state with a more libertarian bent. It’s gotten harder to pass a marriage amendment.”

Rove-ian visions of Republican electoral dominance depend upon solid Republican support throughout the Mountain West. Arizona, Colorado and South Dakota all delivered their electoral votes for George Bush in both 2000 and 2004, and four out of six senators from those states are now Republican. But the GOP’s increasing reliance on Southern-style social conservatism, and its accompanying abandonment of any libertarian pretenses, has led some Democratic strategists to see that region as fertile ground for substantial Democratic gains.

Greenwald also mentions Kos’s posts on Libertarians and Liberals, with Kos commenting here. (I’ve also discussed this previously, such as here.) Greenwald concludes with comments I’ve made here many times, that the Republicans cannot simultaneously win in the west with their rhetoric in support of individual liberty while pandering to the social agenda of the religious right:

No political party can be everything to everyone. As Republicans are forced to rely more and more on their base of white Southern evangelicals, they will be increasingly viewed as the party of intrusive governmental control.

In the process, the Democrats have the chance to become the party that stands for the right of adults to make decisions about their own lives free of moralistic governmental interference and regulation. Those who cast their votes based principally on such libertarian sentiments — driven by the belief that the government should, to the greatest extent possible, stay out of their lives — will view the Democratic Party as the far more attractive choice. The decreased support for same-sex marriage bans in the West, as well as the 2006 midterm results generally, make clear just what a potent opportunity this is for Democrats.

Follow-up Post: Reason’s Challenge to “Libertarian Democrats”

Moonbat Chopra At It Again

The only possible explanation is that Huffington Post keeps Deepak Chopra around because the controversy brings in lots of hits. I guess I’m playing along here. I’ll wait for the conclusion to comment more, but Chopra is back attacking science in the first part of his posts on Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion.

The short response is that Chopra uses the fact that he knows his mother loves him without using science as evidence that science is not the only route to knowledge. True, but the scientific method, and not his imagination, is the route to knowledge for questions which are in the realm of science, including evolution and the workings of the human brain.

Carville Continues Attacks on Howard Dean

James Carville is continuing his attacks on DNC Chair Howard Dean (hat tip to Northwest Progressive):

Democratic strategist James Carville says his party should dump Howard Dean as chairman of the Democratic Party because of incompetence.

Carville, during coffee and rolls with political reporters today, said Democrats could have picked up as many as 50 House seats, instead of the nearly 30 they have so far.

The reason they didn’t, he said, is the Democratic National Committee did not spend some $6 million it could have put into so-called “third tier” House races against vulnerable Republicans.

Carville said the other Democratic campaign committees had borrowed to the hilt.

He said he tried to meet with Dean to argue for additional spending for Democrats in the final days of the campaign, but Dean declined and gave no reason why.

Asked by a reporter whether Dean should be dumped, Carville replied, “In a word, do I think? Yes.”

He added, “I think he should be held accountable.” He added, “I would describe his leadership as Rumsfeldian in its competence.”

We have had a number of strange situations lately. The Republicans, who received a bad thumpin’, are reelecting pretty much the same losers to positions of power in the party. Even when there are new faces, such as Mel Martinez, we are seeing a throwback to the ideas which led them to defeat. The Democrats win big, and Carville wants to throw out Dean due to a fantasy that Democrats could have done even better?

Update: Crooks and Liars has more on Carville’s attacks and Dean’s Response

The Inevitability of Life

Creationists (including advocates of intelligent design) argue that the creation of life is improbable to justify the need for a creator which exists outside of the realm of science. As we have no witnesses of something which happened so long ago, the details of the development of life are not yet known. The Panda’s Thumb looks at some articles which argue that life might be inevitable on thermodynamic grounds. While this argument isn’t entirely convincing (and is not necessary to consider creationism a weak hypothesis), it does present an interesting idea.

Jim Webb on the Class Struggle

There was a time when the upper middle class could feel their economic position was safely protected by Republican policies. In recent years Republicans got greedy as they devised policies to redistribute wealth from the middle and even the upper class to the ultra-wealthy. Those at the upper levels of corporate American fail to consider what would happen should the middle class disappear and there’s not enough people left who can afford their products–similar to how I fear the consequences personally if too few can afford to pay for health care.

Senator-elect Jim Webb discusses the class struggle in The Wall Street Journal, noting that white collar workers now share the risks with blue collar workers:

…the true challenge is for everyone to understand that the current economic divisions in society are harmful to our future. It should be the first order of business for the new Congress to begin addressing these divisions, and to work to bring true fairness back to economic life. Workers already understand this, as they see stagnant wages and disappearing jobs.

America’s elites need to understand this reality in terms of their own self-interest. A recent survey in the Economist warned that globalization was affecting the U.S. differently than other “First World” nations, and that white-collar jobs were in as much danger as the blue-collar positions which have thus far been ravaged by outsourcing and illegal immigration. That survey then warned that “unless a solution is found to sluggish real wages and rising inequality, there is a serious risk of a protectionist backlash” in America that would take us away from what they view to be the “biggest economic stimulus in world history.”

Conservatives often write as if the choice was between laissez-faire capitalism from Republicans vs. socialistic economic policies from Democrats. In reality, Republican economic conservativism has little to do with the views of Adam Smith, Hayek, or von Mises. Republicans support decreased regulation when they find it to be to their benefit to allow the fox to guard the hen house. Otherwise the hallmark of Republican economic policies is to redistribute wealth to their political supporters among the ultra-wealthy. Those who benefit from such government-assisted redistribution of wealth to the ultra-wealthy are then hailed as capitalist heros by many conservatives.

When Webb addresses the politics and the role of Congress, I wish he had discussed more the political policies which led us to where we are, and what he would recommend be done in the next Congress. There’s a limit to what can be discussed in one op-ed, and at least he does dicsuss how Republicans distract from discussion of the actual issues:

The politics of the Karl Rove era were designed to distract and divide the very people who would ordinarily be rebelling against the deterioration of their way of life. Working Americans have been repeatedly seduced at the polls by emotional issues such as the predictable mantra of “God, guns, gays, abortion and the flag” while their way of life shifted ineluctably beneath their feet. But this election cycle showed an electorate that intends to hold government leaders accountable for allowing every American a fair opportunity to succeed.

How Fox Twists The News

The Huffington Post has come up with a memo which, as is hardly surprising, shows how Fox News distorts their coverage to promote Republicans, regardless of the validity.

The memo instructs staff members to “be on the look out for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled by the prospect of a Dem-controlled Congress.”

If you are only looking for one angle to fabricate a case you are bound to find something to back it up. They’d be providing a far more accurate account if instead they looked at how George Bush has played into bin Laden’s hands from the beginning, including by assisting in his goal of overthrowing secular Middle East governments, giving terrorists new training grounds in Iraq, turning moderate Arabs against the United States, tremendously increasing recruitment for al Qaeda, and undermining pro-democracy movements world wide.

The memo also says, “The question of the day, and indeed for the rest of bush’s term, is: What’s the Dem plan for Iraq?” A far better question for after the election would be to ask whether the Republicans were repudiated for taking the country to war without a plan. After all, it is those who took us to war who really should have had a plan. Democrats have offered plans, but the problem is that George Bush has left us all in a situation where there are no good solutions. To blame the Democrats for not having a perfect plan for Iraq would be like breaking an egg and attacking the opponent for not having a plan to put it back together again.

Maureen Dowd On The Faults of Republican Foreign Policy Realists and Idealists

Maureen Dowd has little respect for the “chardonnay diplomacy” of the foreign policy realists who are willing to wink at dictators as they butcher their own populations. The alternative idealism of the neocons is also faulty:

The Idealists who loved Ronald Reagan’s evocation of Thomas Paine — “We have it in our power to begin the world over again” — are right that Americans yearn for a moral foreign policy. It was sickening in 1989 to see Brent Scowcroft — another realist back in fashion — offering a cozy supper toast to Chinese leaders only six months after Tiananmen Square, and getting Poppy to lecture Ukrainians not to break the iron grip of Moscow.

It was sickening, after Bush père sold the Persian Gulf war as a moral mission, to see the 41 team decide at the end not to intervene to stop Saddam from slaughtering thousands of innocent Shiites and Kurds who rose up as the president had asked.

It was sickening when the first Bush administration decided to do nothing about the genocidal Serbian war on Bosnia in 1992. As Secretary of State Baker frostily explained, “We do not have a dog in that fight.” Justifying the administration’s tough stance toward Israel, the Velvet Hammer made another notorious comment. “(Expletive deleted) the Jews,” he told a colleague privately. “They didn’t vote for us anyway.”

But while the Idealists have a point, they also have a problem. Their moral war in Iraq was sold four years ago with two big lies: that Saddam had W.M.D. and that the Iraqis were yearning for democracy. And it has continued in a fog of deception about imaginary progress. It is immoral to put troops’ lives at risk because one is doctrinaire, to make people die for a failure of flexibility.

America’s bungled occupation and naïve assumptions unleashed sectarian bloodletting that could ultimately, as The Times’s John Burns wrote, “match the mass killing that characterized Mr. Hussein’s psychopathic years in power” and embolden authoritarian Arab leaders.