Welcome to Carnival of Liberty XXVI, smack in the heart of the holiday season.
But first, a few preliminaries.
Postings are listed in the order they were received, so don’t stop reading after the first few. That said, as host I have again arbitrarily decided to designate a few personal favorites with the tank graphic from the classic Atari Combat game. Do check out the other entries, though, as personal tastes may vary.
And now, on with the show.
From The Unrepentant Individual, Surveillance. Brad worries about the precedent being established by the Bush administration’s policy of monitoring international communication with suspected terrorists without warrants.
Well, the big news in the blogosphere, on all sides, is the Bush wiretap problem. The Dems are yelling â€œimpeachment!â€, the Reps are circling wagons and staying silent, and we libertarians are in a quandary. Itâ€™s a matter of first determining whether the actions were legal, and second determining whether they step on civil liberties considering the wartime threat we face.
But what Iâ€™d like to focus on is the moral issue. Is this sort of behavior consistent with the sorts of civil liberties we enjoy as Americans? And being a pragmatic pro-defense libertarian, I have to ask whether the balance between defense and civil liberties has been tipped too far.
And in this case, I have to believe that weâ€™ve crossed the line.
In the latest theatrical example of anti-Western arrogance, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad â€œhas banned Western music from Iranâ€™s radio and TV stations.â€
According to Breitbart.com, popular classics like The Eagles and Eric Clapton – and perhaps less tragically George Michael and Kenny G â€“ will no longer grace the airwaves of the Islamic Republic.
Though this particular development is on the surface entertaining, it is but one in many recent bold and calculated moves by Ahmadinejad. His statements that the WWII Holocaust is an engineered myth and that Israel must be wiped out – or at least relocated – are serious, considering that Israeli military intelligence and IAEAâ€™s ElBaradei estimate nuclear weapon capability by March 2006 (few months away).
I believe that my individual right to be safe in my own home and to be secure in the knowledge that my communications, mail or otherwise, are not be reviewed by the government is paramount. Further, those same concerns extend to other law-abiding citizens of this country. We each have a right to be secure in our privacy.
In addition, I know that I can protect myself and my family against direct threats to me. However, there are limits to my ability to protect my family and myself. Those limits include an inability to stop most crime, to protect myself against terrorist attack and attacks by foriegn powers. I have neither the resources nor the skill to take on those tasks.
The government, in a classic liberal sense, must be limited in the roles it undertakes, particularly when those roles infringe upon or even touch upon individual liberty. But one key role a government must undertake for those it serves is to protect its citizens against criminals, against terrorists (a criminal of a different stripe), and against foreign powers. The government is uniquely suited to perform that role.
From Different River, Carl Levin, Strict Constructionist, and the Exclusionary Rule. Different River also looks at the surveillance issue, but only after examining Senator Levin’s questioning of the program’s constitutionality.
I am tempted to answer: â€œRight after the sentence in the Constitution that guarantees the right to an abortion.â€ After all, Carl Levin is a well-known supporter of abortion as a Constitutional right. Iâ€™d love to hear him admit that there is no more explicit mention of abortion in the Constitution than there is of wiretapping suspected terrorists â€“ a position that the so-called â€œstrict constructionistâ€ school of jurisprudence has been making for a long time.
Ah, but you say â€“ no one ever claimed the right to an abortion was explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. Even the Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, writing the majority opinion in Roe vs. Wade, explicitly admits that, â€œThe Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy,â€ let alone abortion. Instead, he finds the right to an abortion by reference to the â€œpenumbras of the Bill of Rights,â€ or as Justice William Douglass put it in Griswold vs. Connecticut, â€œpenumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance.â€
So, there you have it, Senator Levin: The presidentâ€™s authority to wiretap suspected al-Qaeda operatives in the United States comes from the â€œpenumbras, formed by emanationsâ€ from the use-of-force resolution passed on September 14, 2001.
However, I find this highly problematic. Not because I think we should treat our “most vulnerable citizens” badly, but because we’re supposed to take this as the measure, the moral test, of a government or nation.
But charity, since this seems to be what we’re talking about here, cannot be a moral test. While there are plenty of reasons to give to charity, there is no challenge in giving money per se. The challenge is creating resources and making them available to all. That is what runs progress, not charity.
I have always appreciated Morgan Freedmanâ€™s talent as an actor, but I had no idea of his philosophical views on life. Iâ€™m sure that this is only a small look at what Morgan Freeman is all about, but from what I have heard from him so farâ€¦I am very impressed.
Liberty, then, has enjoyed a long tradition of being thought of in a rigorously defined â€˜negativeâ€™ sense. Donâ€™t mess with me and I wonâ€™t mess with you. Government will make sure of that. Yay. Weâ€™re free. End of Story.
â€˜Positive libertyâ€™ had a couple of false starts in philosophy.
A much younger conception of â€˜libertyâ€™. One that seems to be pulled out of thin air and isnâ€™t readily connected to the earlier conception. The important phrase here is â€˜freedom from the ills of wants and fear.â€™ This changes liberty from a default state to one that must be actively maintained. On one hand, government just sits around in case liberty is impinged upon. On the other, government has to work its butt off to give you â€˜positive libertyâ€™â€¦and in order to do so must restrict and manage the lives of allâ€¦kind of contradictory.
From Searchlight Crusade, Amending the Budget Process. Dan Melson tries a new tactic in the fight against federal pork, not by attacking individuals instances but by overhauling the rules of the game.
Over at Q and O they’ve got a good anti-pork proposal – that of unbundling, mandatory separation of each line item on the budget from every other. Conjectures and Refutations has a good games theory treatment of one side.
Well, this is all well and good, and I support it fully, in the “Whatever fraction of a loaf we can get is better than none” sense. However, one thing overlooked is that the various legislative branches, both in Congress and the individual states, now have a long history of backing each other on this particular Prisoner’s Dilemma. It is the Way Things Are Done.
I have come to believe that the only way we are going to see real budgetary reform is to force the special interests and their pet congresscritters to fight each other by putting limits on what is available.
When a system of government is ratified democratically, and officials are voted into that system, a majority of citizens have consented to be ruled in a certain manner and for a time, by certain people.
These days, there are those who take the idea of holding officials accountable to an extreme that would be laughable had it not the potential to be dangerous. Huge crowds of people band together to demand that things be done a certain way, and if politicians disagree with the demand and proceed with their original plans, they are branded as tyrants, traitors, sellouts, and any number of phrases which express an equal willingness to be reasonable.
This behavior is absurd. In a country of 300 million, why should we want our leaders to be so accountable to whatever group that can rally a few tens of thousands?
Mob rule is not the rule of the majority, and is therefore not the principle risk of democracy. Mob rule is the abandonment of rule of law whenever enough people are unhinged enough about something to make a formidable force. In this tree of a country, you can’t shake a twig without 10,000 people getting pissed off.
The key importance of this event sees the Congo now receiving effective community pressure and strict intervention from neighboring countries who demand that Congolese disconnect from a decades old, war loop.
The path to find a better way to favor Peace and Democracy throughout many war-torn societies, has been a struggle. Perhaps this method to end decades-old conflicts, will be the solution of the future, re: lingering conflicts.
Don Ho [...] underwent a highly experimental procedure for his failing heart. It was successful, and as he said, “It was my last hope.”
Are government bureaucrats God, or agents of the Almighty, that they can approve or deny this procedure, though the patient fully accepts any and all risks involved? These were Ho’s own stem cells. The procedure involves no embryos, so neither side of the “culture of life” debate applies here. Ah, but government steps in to save us from ourselves, because like Paul Krugman and big government’s other proponents say, government should reduce the risk in our lives. Even if we accept those risks, and even if we believe we have much to gain?
From Coyote Blog, An African Holiday is a Great Idea, But the Principles of Kwanzaa Suck. Coyote Blog takes an unfavorable look at the political underpinnings of the holiday.
Anyway, I give credit to Karenga for wanting to create a holiday for African-Americans that paid homage to themselves and their history. However, what Karenga created was a 7-day holiday built around 7 principles, which are basically a seven step plan to Marxism. Instead of rejecting slavery entirely, Kwanzaa celebrates a transition from enslavement of blacks by whites to enslavement of blacks by blacks.
Well, that wraps up this week’s Carnival. Now, I’ll hand over the reigns to next week’s host, Louisiana Libertarian. A final thanks to all contributors; I’ve enjoyed reading your work.
Happy holidays and liberty to all.