Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Across the Persian Gulf...

but libertarianism certainly demands a commitment to ending a war one thinks is unconstitutional and unwise.

'Unwise' can always be an easy case to make concerning a war -- but 'unconstitutional'?

It strikes me that the Iraq Campaign of WWIV was not the least approved military action in US history but the most approved. Which makes sense because as society becomes more bureaucratic, military force authorizations will become more bureaucratic as well.

Here are five approving acts or events.

1) The Persian Gulf War Resolution adopted January 12, 1991.

The initial fight with Iraq was approved by just about everyone on earth save Jordan and the PLO. The UN, NATO, the Politburo of the Soviet Union and the Democrat-controlled US Congress all approved the military response to the invasion of Kuwait.

The invasion was ended after 4 days of ground fighting with a cease-fire agreement which was immediately and persistently violated by Iraq during the subsequent 12 years including shooting at US and British aircraft and an attempt to assassinate George H. W. Bush.

2) The World Trade Center Bombing February 26, 1993.

There is quite a bit of evidence that the '93 plotters were connected to Iraqi Intelligence.
"Now, how did a young man who had led a seemingly normal life up until August 1990 suddenly become a world class terrorist six months after Iraq invaded his country of residence? Where did he get such sophisticated explosives training in just six months? (The real Abdul Basit's degree, remember, was in electronic engineering, not chemistry, which Swansea Institute does not even teach.) "
If one is attacked, no "Declaration of War" is required because - guess what - you're already at war.

3) Bin Laden's Fatwa or Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places dated August 23, 1996.
My Muslim Brothers of The World:
Your brothers in Palestine and in the land of the two Holy Places are calling upon your help and asking you to take part in fighting against the enemy --your enemy and their enemy-- the Americans and the Israelis. they are asking you to do whatever you can, with one own means and ability, to expel the enemy, humiliated and defeated, out of the sanctities of Islam.
If war is declared against a country, it doesn't have to declare war itself because - guess what - you're already at war. There's no rule stating that one cannot conduct a war against an international conspiracy rather than a nation state. Indeed, WWIII was fought more against an international conspiracy than against any nation states. Once one is at war, strategy and tactics are the responsibility of the Executive Branch - not Congress. Who you attack in response and when is a strategic or tactical choice. If one happened to already be at war against a nation that was right in the heart of the Middle East, it might be convenient to finish that war to take a terrorist-supporting state off the board in the course of a larger war against Osama and others seeking to reestablish the Caliphate.

4) The New York City and Washington DC Attacks of September 11, 2001.

If one is attacked, no "Declaration of War" is required because - guess what - you're already at war. Once one is at war, strategy and tactics are the responsibility of the Executive Branch - not Congress. Who you attack in response and when is a strategic or tactical choice. For example: What was the first foreign nation invaded by US forces following the Pearl Harbor Attack of 1941? Answer - France, specifically French Morocco. Thus, there is precedent for resuming a conflict with a nation such as Iraq which, after all, we were still at war with and which had committed numerous acts of war against us.

5) Authorization for Use of Military Force adopted September 18, 2001.

Provided broad authority for the use of military force. Once one is at war, strategy and tactics are the responsibility of the Executive Branch - not Congress.

6) Authorization for use of Military Force Against Iraq - Resolution of 2002 adopted October 16, 2002.

Provided broad authority for the use of military force. Once one is at war, strategy and tactics are the responsibility of the Executive Branch - not Congress. BTW, 6 of the 12 stated justifications for the use of force against Iraq in this Resolution do not involve WMDs.

Being a good libertarian anarchist, I naturally oppose the socialist provision of military services. I would prefer privatization of our foreign policy and the use of Letters of Marque and Reprisal governed by Rules for Captures on Land and Water. On the other hand, as a good libertarian anarchist, I oppose the concept of national sovereignty -- ours or anyone else's.

As to the issue of whether or not a war is "unwise". Note that war is a two (or more)-party activity. If someone is at war with you, you are at war whatever your opinion happens to be about the matter.

I think it's safe to say that since the first domestic attack on the US by Arab/Islamic forces in the modern era, we've been a war whatever our opinion happens to be about the matter.

But it's not a 'real' war, is it?

The Kaiser, Imperial Japan, Hitler, and the USSR; those were real enemies in real wars, weren't they?

Question -- how many civilians in the Continental US were killed (in total) by those enemies? Somewhere in the vicinity of 6. Perhaps there were a few more killed during WWI, WWII, and WWIII in espionage operations here. Meanwhile, our current enemies have killed somewhere in the vicinity of 3000. Sounds 'real' to me.

But let's think further about this argument: but libertarianism certainly demands a commitment to ending a war one thinks is unconstitutional and unwise.

Is the above true? Does libertarianism qua libertarianism require us not to do unwise things (whether they are a love affair or a war)? I would guess that libertarianism demands that we not aggress not that we eschew unwise behavior. Lots of human behavior is both unwise and does not violate the non-aggression axiom.

Does libertarianism qua libertarianism require us not to do unconstitutional things. Depends on the constitution, doesn't it? Libertarian archists (in the US) may feel themselves bound to be defenders of the US constitution but surely libertarian anarchists (or non-US libertarian archists) would not be so bound. I don't see that defense of a (particular) constitution is a particularly libertarian value.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Vouchers for Millionaires

New York City Pays Tuition for ex Viacom COO

The New York Sun reports that the US Supreme Court in a 4-4 split decision leaves in place an Appeals Court order that requires New York City to pay thousands of dollars a month for a private school to educate the son of a former Viacom COO. At issue, whether the multi-millionaire and his AD/HD son have to try a government school first or can just pick a private school and then get the city to pay for it. Here is a history of the case from a sympathetic source.

Thomas Freston, who brought the case on behalf of his son, is a former co-Chief Operating Officer of Viacom. In 2004, according to this 2005 USA Today article, he received $4.2 million in base pay and $16 million in bonus pay (plus many extras).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A Cypherpunk Joins the Marines

Those of us in the libertarian anarchist community have had few representatives to cheer for in our current contretemps. There was John W. Perry the libertarian NYC Cop who died at the Trade Center on 9-11 but that was about it.

But now comes news that Sameer Parekh has reported to Marine Corps OCS at Quantico. A cypherpunk and crypto entrepreneur, Sameer was in Budapest on 9-11:

I was at the Backpack Hostel in Budapest, Hungary as I watched the towers fall. I sat there as a fellow backpacker bounced up and down on the sofa in glee.

It's been six years, and I've made a number of false starts since then. Nine days from now, I will report to OCS, and once I complete the ten weeks in Quantico, I will finally begin my task to "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

I chatted with Sameer at the CFP conference in Toronto in 2000 about his plans to bum around Europe. I assume that Sameer's hair is a bit shorter these days. Why so it is:

Surprisingly, a number of libertarian anarchists have supported the current war or at least some version of the current war (see J. Neil Schulman). Not in the sense that state war is a good idea but in the sense that state war is what currently exists. While they may prefer private war, they deal with the reality of state war as they deal with the reality of state roads.

In particular, they don't think that the imposition of the Caliphate over the whole of the earth is a good idea.

Sameer -- Good luck at OCS and in the fight from an old soldier!

Duncan Frissell, Tech Sergeant CAP (Retired).

Here are some cypherpunk posts by or about Sameer.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The New Economy

So I walked into a shop on New York City's Lower East Side and spoke to the proprietor. He went into the back and returned with a new, conservative, wool, pinstriped, men's suit. I gave him $25.00 in cash and walked out with the suit.

Now the suit was made in China. I had bought it for $24.95 on eBay. I have purchased three suits from the same source. The other two suits cost me about $35.00. No mention was ever made of sales taxes. The seller uses eBay and mail order catalogs to sell similar items throughout the US.

By any standards, the price is amazing. Even more amazing would be an economic analysis of the nature of the transactions involved.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Climate Change Deniers in Newsweek

The Truth About Denial

So Newsweek is beating up on climate change deniers this week. One minor problem with the lead though:
Aug. 13, 2007 issue - Sen. Barbara Boxer had been chair of the Senate's Environment Committee for less than a month when the verdict landed last February. "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," concluded a report by 600 scientists from governments, academia, green groups and businesses in 40 countries. Worse, there was now at least a 90 percent likelihood that the release of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels is causing longer droughts, more flood-causing downpours and worse heat waves, way up from earlier studies.
Then there's this:
The response to the international climate panel's latest report, in February, showed that greenhouse doubters have a lot of fight left in them.
What's the problem? Simple. Climate Change 2007 The IPCC 4th Assessment Report isn't out yet. See the future tense on the front page of the IPCC's website. "The IPCC 4th Assessment Report is coming out." And:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been established by WMO and UNEP to assess scientific, technical and socio- economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. It is currently finalizing its Fourth Assessment Report "Climate Change 2007", also referred to as AR4.
So what came out in February? The political summary of one part (about 1/3) of the final report.

IPCC adopts major assessment of climate change science

Paris, 2 February 2007 – Late last night, Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) adopted the Summary for Policymakers of the first volume of “Climate Change 2007”, also known as the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). “Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis”, assesses the current scientific knowledge of the natural and human drivers of climate change, observed changes in climate, the ability of science to attribute changes to different causes, and projections for future climate change.

Not released is the actual report on the science of climate change. That won't be adopted until November or December.

If AR4 - when finally released - is "a definitive statement on the science of climate change" it will answer a few of the following questions but still leave the hard ones unanswered:
  1. Is the Earth warming?
  2. Did human activity cause it?
  3. Is the level of warming dangerous or can we live with it?
  4. Can it be reversed?
  5. Are the changes required to reverse warming worse than the harm it is likely to cause? (e.g. impoverishment of mankind)
  6. Will plant growth, cloud formation, etc. mitigate it without human intervention?
  7. Should we reduce GHG releases to reverse warming or use technical means to remove GHGs from the atmosphere? (e.g. dump an iron-oxide solution into the Arctic Ocean to cause a plankton bloom.)
  8. What changes in human activity should be made to reduce GHG emissions?
  9. What forms of social organization should direct those changes? (i.e. Is a bureaucratic command economy the best designer of solutions to such problems?)
Lots of questions still unanswered.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Universal Brotherhood of Man

It doesn't matter what your race, creed, or color is; you can still be a son of a bitch. -- Duncan Philip Frissell 1899-1965

Another Muhammad Cartoon Controversy

So a Christian chaplain at New York's Rockland County jail was passing out some of Jack Chick's anti-Muslim cartoon tracts.

Jail hiring Muslim chaplain after uproar

NEW CITY, N.Y. -- The county jail where a Christian minister handed out anti-Islamic cartoons announced it will hire an imam for its Muslim inmates. The Rockland County Jail also said it will provide religiously appropriate food. Rockland Undersheriff Thomas Guthrie said Tuesday that the imam will work one day a week, joining the jail's priest and rabbi.

The Christian chaplain, the Rev. Teresa Darden Clapp, was suspended with pay last month after inmates complained she was passing out anti-Islam booklets. In the cartoon panel stories, a tract titled Men of Peace? said Islamic fundamentalists who commit terrorist acts are not "bad Muslims" but "very good Muslims" who act in accordance with their religion. Another tract, titled Allah Has No Son, said Allah is not God, Muhammad was no prophet, and the Quran is not the word of God. Both stories end with people being convinced Islam is false. In one, a Muslim converts to Christianity. Local Muslims have called for Clapp's dismissal, and the county requested an independent investigation.

Clapp has not commented public about the controversy and has not responded to messages seeking comment.
Jack Chic's tracts are famous for their anti-Catholicism and stories of strange conspiracies. One tract argues that after demons created the Catholic Church to draw Christians away from Christ (based on Alexander Hilsop's pamphlet The Two Babylons: Papal worship Revealed to be the worship of Nimrod and His wife), Rome created Islam to produce the warriors required to destroy true Christianity.

Ironically, even though the Rev. Teresa Darden Clapp takes a pretty literalist reading of scripture, she somehow missed 1 Cor. 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Buddhist Children of Lesbian Moms are per se Un-American

How do I know? The Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey asked one:

"Jhanelle said that as a Buddhist and the daughter of two lesbian moms, the pledge "doesn't represent my family or my beliefs".

From a story about how laws which have been declared unconstitutional (such as one requiring non-pledging students to stand during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance) still remain in the law books and on the websites of the State of New Jersey.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Private Schools

I'm not a big fan of school choice for tax morality and state control reasons.

Schools are a real problem though.

Slave schools are set at zero cost -- out-of-pocket. That was not too much of a problem when private schools were cheap. Low cost differential.

But even with low inflation (and with the labor/goods cost ratio skewing in favor of labor school inflation has been high), private schools end up costing the vast amounts of money (over time) since slave schools remain artificially fixed at zero price.

Home schooling, family coop schooling, and Lancasterian schools can help control private educational costs.

Children working with their parents (for money) over the nets can reduce costs as well and change the economics of child rearing.

Obviously, the income foregone by the parent-teacher will continue to be the major cost. Educational materials are freely available for the cost of a high-speed net connection.

Alternative ed will continue to be helped by the piss poor performance (and the political, moral, and social atmosphere ) of slave schools.  Sending one's child to an institution specializing in child abuse will not be economically justified even at zero cost.

Why Homeschooling & Christian Schools

Students attend the few conservative schools extant for a number of reasons. Just as blacks would eschew attendance at schools run by the KKK (if they could gain admittance); conservatives loathe commie schools.

I'm looking for a Montessori school for my grandson. In the course of the search the obvious occurred to me. New Jersey has thousands of pre, primary, secondary, and tertiary schools and almost all of them are run by hard core lefties.

The administrators and teachers believe in such things as high taxes, taxes, affirmative action, welfare, medicare, medicaid, social security, collectivization of schools, etc. Not to mention all the politically correct garbage.

No wonder home schooling is also very popular.

I would guess that if lefties faced a situation in which all schools were controlled by conservatives, they'd reject government monopoly schooling as well.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Despotism tempered by Dynamite

(B)y our constitution we are governed by a Despot who, although in theory, absolute - is, in practice, nothing of the kind - being watched night and day by two Wise Men whose duty it is, on his very first lapse from political or social propriety, to denounce him to me, the Public Exploder ... and it then becomes my duty to blow up His Majesty with dynamite, and, as some compensation for my wounded feelings, I reign in his stead.

After many unhappy experiments in the direction of an ideal Republic, it was found that what may be described as a Despotism tempered by Dynamite provides, on the whole, the most satisfactory description of ruler - an autocrat who dares not abuse his autocratic powers.

--Utopia (Limited) or The Flowers of Progress by Gilbert & Sullivan -- 1898

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Liberties Lost 1960 to the Present

Since 1960, Americans have lost the liberty to:

Open a secret US bank account.
Purchase firearms capable of firing generally available fixed ammunition by mail.
Open a secret foreign bank account, trust, or corporation.
Accumulate untaxed earnings in a secret foreign bank account, trust, or corporation.
Purchase new, fully automatic, firearms.
Buy high-volume flush toilets.
Discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, age, etc. in employment and other commercial transactions.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Liberties Gained 1960 to the Present

Since 1960, Americans have gained the liberty to:

Commit sodomy.
Commit fornication.
Commit adultery.
Own gold.
Enforce gold clauses in contracts.
Privately possess obscene materials not featuring children.

Liberties Lost/Gained 1960 to the Present

One convenient use of a blog is to widely distribute information
which you, alone, possess. I am going to start two simple lists of
liberties that Americans have lost and gained since 1960. I am well
qualified for this task since I was politically conscious (in a
limited sense) in 1960 and I've been thinking about the topic ever
since. The blog format will also allow me to add to the lists as I
think of entries. The individual items on the two lists will be
restricted to America, will be short, will be in random order, will
consist only of liberties lost or gained from government
restrictions, and may be linked to definitions or examples as I can
be bothered to find the links.

I am doing this because I frequently listen to political commentary
and note that most hard core right wingers and libertarians believe
that many liberties have been lost while more centrist commentators
tend to see the gains. Neither side attempts a comprehensive
listing. We'll see how I do.

The initial lists will be short but I will add to them as time goes by.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Passport Renewal

Renewing your Passport in the Modern Era:

The best way to renew your passport is to package your application, photos, old passport, and money into one of the large (soft) Express Mail envelopes. Include a self-addressed smaller cardboard Express Mail envelope with a $14.40 Express Mail stamp already on it for State to use to return your new (and old) passports. Ship it all off. Wait one week normally. Two weeks in this Spring of our discontent.

Print/Bookmark the following page from the website:

How to apply for a Passport Renewal
Application for Passport by Mail: DS-82

Form: Application for US Passport by Mail (revised)

Helpful Hit for Mailing Your DS-82

How to Get Your Passport in a Hurry

Old Application for Passport by Mail (to compare and highlight the enhanced privacy violations of the new one).
Get two passport photos.


$67 Renewal
$60 Expedited Service Fee

Postal Money Order for $127.00 (Pay to "U.S. Department of State")

$14.40 x 2 = $28.80 Express Mail Two Ways

circa $155.80

Mail to:

National Passport Processing
Post Office Box 13349
Philadelphia, PA 19101-3349

As for the application itself... State has been playing games with the form. They have added additional info requests and reduced the number of responses that they officially label 'optional'. As always since 1988, they want your SS# and say the law requires that you provide it. But no one has ever been fined for failure to do so. Pure bluff.

Compare the current DS-82 with previous application (above). On that form, the following categories were marked optional:

Travel Plans
Length of Stay
Emergency Contact ("If you wish...")

It was one page instead of two and it cost $40.

You can probably leave the above items off if you want (as well as "Employer"). I know many applicants who have declined to supply SS# 's since 1988 (one in 2007) and no one has been refused a passport or been fined. We've been putting a Post-it Note on the form covering the SS# with the label "This Space Intentionally Left Blank".

The slick drafters of the Privacy Act Statement finessed the issue of what info is mandatory as follows:
CONSEQUENCES OF FAILURE TO PROVIDE INFORMATION With the exception of your Social Security Number (see Federal Tax Law statement on Instruction Page 3), you are not legally required to provide the information requested on this form. However, failure to do so may result in Passport Services' refusal to accept your application or result in the denial of a U.S. passport.
You're supposed to guess what's mandatory and what's not.

In any case, using this system we recently received a new passport in a week and a day. Essentially the same delay as a year ago before the current surge in applications.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Talk Radio Anti-Seminar Caller

Hello Mr. Right-Wing Radio Talk Show Host,

Short time listener, last time caller.

I've never listened to your show before. In fact, I've never
listened to a radio before. But I like your show. I used to hate it
(even though I had never heard it). You used to be lousy but you've
gotten a lot better recently.

I'm a Democrat. I've voted Democrat ever since I started voting in
'32 (except for '48 when I proudly cast my vote for Henry Wallace)
but I'm voting Republican this year.

Please cut me off.

I have only one concise, relevant point to make...