Sunday, January 13, 2008


I ran, you ran, we all ran from Iran.

Why is it that all these politicians "concerned for our safety" are suddenly acting like Iran is some huge threat to our national security? Do we seriously perceive the Iranians as a big enough threat that we don't want to seem weak in their midst? According to this article, President Bush is yet again on a mission to promote freedom in the Middle East. And yet again, he's calling on the "people of the region" to repudiate Iran's freedom-hating ways.
President Bush says Iran is the world's largest sponsor of terrorism, and a source of instability in the Middle East. VOA White House Correspondent Paula Wolfson reports in the only speech of his Mideast trip, the president urged the people of the region to reject extremism and embrace freedom.
How's this for an idea: let Iran and the rest of the Middle East have the freedom to determine the way they run their own countries! Not that I wouldn't be absolutely thrilled with yet another war in the Middle East. Jesus Christ (irony fully intended)! Why is Manifest Destiny still considered a legitimate form of foreign policy? Haven't we screwed ourselves over in the past enough by trying to force other people into living by our values?

Our country is just that. Ours. No one else's. And you'd better believe I'd be stocking up on ammunition if some other country even joked about trying to impose their system of government on us. Doesn't it only make sense that the Iranians and the rest of the Middle East would feel the same way about their countries? Even if the recent speedboat standoff had been a legitimate act of aggression towards the United States (which I refuse to believe), wouldn't that simply be a testament to how much they don't want us messing with their country? The fact that a few speedboats would threaten a U.S. Naval Destroyer and risk seeing the Gates of Hell, ala Mike Huckabee's America, demonstrates just how committed they are to their sovereignty.

It boggles my mind how our government and many of our people continue to think we have the authority to tell people what's best for them, both inside and outside this country. But especially outside. I mean, it'd be one thing if Iran declared war on us, or started attacking our military (actually attacking, not pestering). But they haven't. And they won't. They would be obliterated, and they know it. Yet despite these very obvious facts, we insist on looking for trouble. America's level of insecurity is on par with the stereotypical 1980s high school jock who refuses to let "his woman" talk to any other man.

You may call me an isolationist, but I legitimately believe that other than trading with countries, we have no obligation on foreign soil unless we are attacked. Hell, I'll even throw in diplomacy. If it serves our interests to see the world at peace (which it does), then yes, we might as well facilitate diplomatic discussions. But that's it. Trade and diplomacy. Military response, never preemption.

In the end, all we're really accomplishing with our current policies is more debt, more hatred abroad, and a resulting political philosophy that makes it easier for the government to destroy liberties here at home. It sickens me that children elsewhere are being born into a world where we are providing the justification for their hatred of America. Get a freaking clue.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Your Papers, Please!

From the LA Times:

A number of states have balked at the law, objecting to it largely over cost and privacy concerns. But under the administration's new edict, states that continue to fight compliance with the law face a penalty: Their residents will be forbidden from using driver's licenses to board airplanes or enter federal buildings as of May 11 of this year.

Congress passed the Real ID law in 2005 to address security flaws spotlighted by the 2001 terrorist attacks. But 17 states, including Arizona, Colorado and Nevada, have passed legislation calling for its repeal or opposing its implementation.

"Come May 2008, [their] citizens . . . will feel the consequences" of the states' resistance, Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke said Friday. To board a plane or enter a federal building, those residents will have to use a passport or other form of accepted identification, he said.

This is just flat out unacceptable. I mean, seriously? "Their citizens' will feel the consequence of the states' resistance"? The Department of Homeland Security might as well just say "We are not amused. Resistance is futile." What is the point of even having states if we don't allow them the power to govern as they desire? I seem to remember a little phrase is the U.S. Constitution saying this:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The 10th Freaking Amendment! The founders felt that this point was so important, they included it in the Bill of Rights. How can the federal government have such a blatant disregard for our rights? How can the citizens of this country be so damn unaware? This amendment was put in for a reason.

It's a shame that any debate concerning "States Rights" (really the 10th Amendment, in my opinion) is inevitably tainted by the Civil War. People on all sides of the political spectrum become nervous when the phrase is brought up, if not downright angry. Among the few, worn our arguments you'll hear, the most common is usually along the lines of "If we respected States Rights, we'd still have slavery." Wrong. Wrong. And wrong. Slavery really should have been outlawed from the onset of the Revolution. Unfortunately, it was viewed by much of the population as both socially acceptable and necessary to sustain economic growth. A proper interpretation of the Constitution would never have allowed slavery, so it was really a lapse in judgment that was to blame, not some fundamental problem with States Rights.

The reason we have States, and even local governments, is representation. People are more appropriately represented at lower levels of government. They also have more freedom to move around and change their condition and the laws affecting it when local and state governments have more say than the federal government. The founders realized that the problem with a "one size fits all" strong, centralized, government was the inherent lack of representation for the individual. The stronger the powers of the federal government, the more people would be alienated or at least negatively affected by any decision. And this is only common sense. The United States is a large place filled with many different people and cultural customs. To suggest that the fed knows what policy is best for all (with the exception of our basic rights and protections) is insulting. It's simply too few people making life-changing decisions for too many.

Perhaps the only thing worse than the breach of the Constitution is the implications for privacy and the abuse thereof. Not only does the requirement of every citizen to carry a national ID transform the average police officer into a federal agent. It also means that people who want to abuse the system now have an easier time developing a "one method screws all" system of exploitation. And among the potential aspects of our lives to be exploited will be (but not limited to) our finger prints, social security number, health records, criminal records in all 50 states, etc. Apparently, certain members of congress even want to include RF micro-transmitters in the IDs so they can be read from a certain radius by anyone with a scanner. What if a criminal were to get their hands on a scanner?

I don't care how much easier the ID will make it to keep the lookout for suspected terrorists. The fact is, September 11th could have been avoided if we'd just relied and acted on the intelligence we had at the time. Increases in federal power only lead to more increases down the road. Honestly, what's next? A bar code on your wrist? To deny a citizen the ability to board a plane or even walk into a federal building, just because their respective state doesn't wish to comply to unjust standards is abhorrent.

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Issues

It's a sad, sad truth that political discussions in this country are rarely about the issues. In fact, just off the top of my head, I'll list 5 things that probably impact a candidate's success more than the issues. In no specific order:

1) Physical Appearance
2) Charisma
3) Religious Beliefs
4) Past Associations
5) Articulation

Whether or not you personally judge a candidate based on the above criteria, there's no denying that nearly every election cycle is more about those 5 traits than the issues at hand. Principled leadership is almost an oxymoron. And I'm not suggesting there was ever really a time when this wasn't the case. Sure, I believe the founding fathers were great (if not flat out insane), but I'm not naïve enough to think that they didn't squabble over who was better than whom based on those 5 points. We were just lucky to get a few nice documents out of the mess, and some rather modest leaders. Hell, they wanted George Washington to be king, and it was probably only due to some combination of shyness and laziness (he did grow a lot of hemp) that caused him to originate the artificial two term limit.

What's even worse is that most of us contribute to the problem. I'll be the first to admit, if sheepishly, that I've argued for candidates in the past based on their electability as a function of those 5 qualities, rather than their stances on the issues and a record to back it up. This kind of mindset is really based on rationalization. We, as voters, are willing to rationalize a candidate into office who does not support what we believe, because they are electable and occasionally say some nice sound bites slightly resembling our goals. We say to ourselves, "hey, if we can just get them into office, maybe they'll do what I want....and at least they won't do what the other guy wants." In reality, they never do what we want, simply because that is not why we elected them. And they know all too well that it's the 5 factors that are the real issues behind their votes.

So how do we fix this problem? We invest. Warren Buffet (owner of Berkshire Hathaway), the most successful investor in the United States, accumulated massive amounts of wealth based on some pretty simple principles. He used fundamental analysis in an investment approach appropriately dubbed "value investing." He literally sought out companies that he believed were significantly undervalued by the majority of investors. If the company had extremely good fundamentals, but the market -- for whatever reason -- didn't jive with it, he bought it anyway. He realized that if they stuck to principles he could trust (and knew worked), eventually other people would notice as well. Think of the impact Buffet must have had on a company when he decided to acquire or invest in it. Despite the superficial reasons for the market tossing it aside earlier, you'd better believe they changed their minds when Warren decided to trust them.

To use an analogy, politicians are really just like companies. We elect them to get things done. We hope to get a return on our investment. Most of the amazingly successful ones lack substance and are probably overvalued (think internet companies of the late 90s). If we truly want positive change, we need to support undervalued politicians with good fundamentals (i.e. those who stick to the issues we actually agree with). And with enough time, hopefully the rest of the people will take notice. Sure, it's not instant gratification or even change. But neither is solid investing. As long as we keep lying to ourselves about what the hotshot candidates might do, we will continue to lose out on every political deal we make.

With all that said, I thought I'd leave you with my favorite clip from the Fox News Republican Debate. This is exactly what I'm talking about:

Thursday, January 10, 2008


"Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and economic sphere." - Benito Mussolini

LIBERTARIANS support maximum liberty in both personal and economic matters. They advocate a much smaller government; one that is limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence. Libertarians tend to embrace individual responsibility, oppose government bureaucracy and taxes, promote private charity, tolerate diverse lifestyles, support the free market, and defend civil liberties.

The RED DOT on the Chart shows where you fit on the political map.

Above image and description provided by The Advocates for Self Government

Ok, so I admit it. I'm a libertarian (as if that wasn't already obvious from the previous post). See that little red dot? According to the "World's Smallest Political Quiz," I'm about as libertarian as they come. And in my eyes, there is no political philosophy more directly opposed to what I believe than what Mussolini's little gem describes above (see the bottom corner of the "Statist" section).

As with any political philosophy though, fascism probably has its merits. Having the government control nearly all aspects of our lives requires much less effort and provides a sense of security to the general population. It also fulfills the basic human desire to belong and be included; to be part of something bigger than oneself. And what kind of group offers more protection and power than a strong national government with an even stronger moral compass?

Now obviously, I find little value in the arguments I've just made above. I believe that as an individual, I alone should have control over how I live my life, provided I don't step on anyone's rights to do the same in the process. I'm inclined to believe that the average person probably thinks along these same lines. I doubt that Joe Schmoe is going to advocate a near complete lack of control over his life. So my question is this: why are we, as citizens, so willing to cede our liberties in certain realms?

The modern American political structure only really offers two options; you choose the democrats if you want to cede economic liberties and the republicans for social liberties. And lately, due to the inevitable "copy-cat" nature of politics, it seems both parties have been willing to adopt each other's lust for control in areas traditionally controlled by the other. Why are more Americans not outraged?

The only reasonable conclusion I can make is that people are inherently afraid of what they don't know. Think I'm wrong? Ask a young child -- probably the perfect template for an uneducated human -- what they think about money. Or maybe about someone else doing something that they don't enjoy doing themselves. Chances are, you'll get responses like "I think everything should be free" and "They shouldn't do that, because I think it's stupid." Children have a very self-centered view of the world, mainly out of necessity. In general, they are extremely sensitive and rather intolerant of things they don't believe or agree with. They are often afraid of what they don't know, and therefore project their desires and values on other people.

So maybe, just maybe, we're essentially a society of overgrown, unknowing children. People who desire less economic freedom either don't understand economics or could never imagine themselves living life below the poverty line. This explains both the hard working, albeit uneducated blue-collar worker, as well as the elite, yet guilt-filled, upper class intellectual typical of the democratic party. The republican party, on the other hand, is filled with people who have little desire for or understanding of social freedom. A.k.a. the members of the Christian right who are scared to death of a dude getting it on with another dude, and the respectable businessman who long ago lost the need or desire for any kind of alternative life choice.

True, there are always exceptions to the rule. But I believe that most of the other people attracted to the "mainstream" parties can either be written off as party loyalists who just want to belong to something (see my merits of fascism argument) or people who are just misinformed of the true party agendas.

Of course, I've probably offended someone who doesn't fit into the neat, little box I've described above. But that doesn't mean I'm going to apologize for my belief that your party is inherently freedom-hating. I don't claim to be some all-knowing authority on how the world works, but I'll be damned if I support some kind of group that wants to take away what is rightfully mine (read "my life"). /Paranoid Rant

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


And so the Revolution began. Kind of.

I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed. For the past 5 or 6 months, I've become immersed in the Ron Paul campaign for presidency. Yesterday marked the completion of the 3rd state primary/caucus (New Hampshire). While I was delighted that Huckabee did not do nearly as well as he did in Iowa, I already expected it. After all, evangelical Christians aren't nearly as ubiquitous as in Iowa, and McCain has been on New Hampshire's good side since 2000.

But really, New Hampshire? Really??

"Live Free or Die." That's a good one. Almost reminds me of "Fair and Balanced." Seriously, when did the NH -- a state that, incedentally, was chosen for the Free State Project based on its supposed vein of libertarianism -- let it's motto become just another meaningless cliche`. Granted, presidential races are about more than just a nice phrase, but I honestly thought someone like Ron Paul would have a better shot in New Hampshire than anywhere else. WTF mate?

Regardless, yesterday's 8% haul inspired me to start this blog. If there really is going to be a revolution, it probably won't be televised, so I figured the "blogosphere" was the next best place to get in on the action. And in light of my belief in America's gradual decline into fascim, I thought I might as well show some resistance (props to me).

Liberty's Last Refuge will be more of a celebration than anything. Consider it a party I have thrown in dedication to the cause of freedom. Closing time is not in my vocabulary. While the content will be both eclectic and enthralling, realize that freedom of expression will be used ad nauseum. Topics will include (yet not be limited to) current events, politics, sociology/psychology, and other intrigues of mine in which I do not have any serious academic background. Reader discretion is advised.

Here's hoping that big men in black suits don't show up at my door any time soon.