Sunday, March 11, 2012

Holder to Americans: We Can Kill You Without Trial

Attorney General Eric Holder recently gave a speech in which he said the U.S. military can execute American citizens without trial, because “'[d]ue process' and 'judicial process' are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security.” Holder added, “[t]he Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”

Holder additionally said, “The Constitution’s guarantee of due process is ironclad, and it is essential – but, as a recent court decision makes clear, it does not require judicial approval before the President may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war – even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen.“

The Attorney General laid out the conditions that allow for an execution without trial:
“First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.”
The first two criteria assume the target is, in fact, guilty and relies solely on the input of the Executive Branch, without judicial or Congressional oversight, and it is impossible for the operation to be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable laws of war. Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention says that willful killing and willfully depriving a person of the rights of fair and regular trial are grave breaches of the Convention and thus war crimes.

Holder does not explain how due process is ensured absent the use of a judicial court. To put it another way: How can anyone defend themselves against accusations of being a terrorist without the ability to face their accusers in court?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

BTP Response to the 2012 State of the Union

President Obama wants us to imagine an America that is within reach. I would rather have you imagine a world a little further down the road. The President wants “[a] country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.“

I prefer to imagine a world in which governments allow you to educate your children as you see fit, without interference. A world in which governments allow you to start and run your own business and create jobs without interference from bureaucrats. A world where you are allowed to purchase energy from any number of sources or companies that do not have special government privilege, or supply your own energy from wind or solar and be able to share the excess with your neighbors without government regulation. A world where you are able to use the currency of your choice without threat of violating a legal tender law. Such a world would have an economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

The President also said “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

If the President were serious about having an economy where everyone plays by the same set of rules; he would immediately ask Congress to revoke all government contracts, abolish the IRS, abolish the Federal Reserve which serves to protect the large banking institutions, and work with the Governors of the 50 States to abolish the use of eminent domain, abolish special privilege given to “corporations,” repeal zoning laws & abolish welfare and licensing laws which do little more than stifle the free market. A world without government interference would be a world where everyone gets a “fair shot.”

President Obama additionally said that he will “fight obstruction” in Congress. As long as bills that create more laws, continue funding the military occupation of foreign nations, take away more rights of the people and increase spending are being proposed, I believe that obstruction is the only admirable action that any member of Congress could commit.

In closing, the President says “[m]illions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that does the same.” I am curious what President Obama means by this statement. I doubt that he intends to remove the special privilege given to the Federal Reserve System. I doubt he will remove government contracts and privatize all government agencies. I doubt he will ask Congress to abolish the postal monopoly that prohibits competition on delivery of first class mail. I also doubt that President Obama will request the repeal of “sovereign immunity” which protects governments from civil suits when a government (or government employee) violates someone's rights.

As long as there is a central bank (whether private or government run) there will be “phony financial profits” and “bad debt;” two things Obama says he wants to eliminate. If the President were serious about moving forward with a blueprint for an economy built to last; he would heed the advice I've already mentioned. The only way forward, is to remove the obstacles – placed by government at all levels – from the road.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Policy Round-Up 2.5

We are throwing in a special edition issue for some great stuff we found today:

Chris Hedges, Common Dreams, 04/11/2011

In Praise of Homeschools
Aaron Smith, Mises Institute, 01/16/2012

Sara Murray, Wall Street Journal, 10/05/2011

Amey Stone, The Fiscal Times, 04/20/2011

Dwight R. Lee, Library of Economics & Liberty, 01/02/2012

We covered this Dwight Lee essay in our most recent election update. This is a nice addition to the growing list of arguments against Keynesian economics and government stimulus. As much of the nation is starting to question the Keynesian system, now is the time to show them that alternative economic approaches are out there, and those based on Austrian school economics offer prosperity without compromising liberty.

2012 Presidential Election Update

In South Carolina, Ron Paul picked up a coveted endorsement from Senator Tom Davis, just as he was finishing a $1.2 million money bomb and reaching 2nd place in the polls. Expect a surge for Ron Paul to start this week in South Carolina. We are waiting to see if Senator Jim DeMint, who speaks positively of Paul, will also endorse him.

The harsh criticism of Romney's statist platform and inconsistent history continues. David Boaz and Michael F. Cannon explain, "ObamaCare is RomneyCare 2.0":

We reported last week about Green Party candidate for nomination Jill Stein's Keynesian economic stimulus plan. It is, of course, more progressive than President Obama's plan, but still true to Keynesian principles none-the-less. The basic premise of Keynesian economic stimulus is that government spending increases aggregate demand, which leads to an increase in production. Dwight R. Lee, for the Library of Economics and Liberty, argues the opposite. There are many economic papers out of the Austrian school which challenge the Keynesian theory with purely economic arguments. Lee uses a little history. In the periods following the Civil War and World War II, federal government spending significantly decreased, and the country was flooded with unemployed former soldiers. Under these conditions, the Keynesian economist would urge for government spending to employ the veterans and create demand for production. However, the government cut spending and used the surpluses to pay off war debt. Rather than a slowed economy, in both cases, the economy boomed. When the production is forced to come from the free market, rather than the government, the economy grows. In the post-Civil War era, it grew almost for 28 years with only one short recession. Federal spending was under 3% of GDP, there was a surplus every year, rather than big government spending, and we had 3 of the most economically prosperous decades in American history. Perhaps this has something to do with Lee's point that government spending reduces real output. First, the government wastes $0.65 for every $1.00 collected in taxes. After that wasteful process, the average taxpayer is left with a product they didn't want or need. It was most likely chosen to satisfy a special interest group or strategic voting block. All the economic potential of that dollar was cut by 2/3rds and then turned into a product that serves very little purpose to the involuntary investor. Keynesian economics just doesn't work. No matter how you spin it, the principles are just plain wrong. Anti-establishment progressives must understand that free economy is a prosperous economy.

Candidate for the Libertarian Party nomination, Gary Johnson, discussed his platform and Ron Paul's campaign on MSNBC. It was a positive discussion of libertarianism. However, it wasn't clearly explained that Johnson is not the LP nominee–at least not yet. He has to win the nomination at the national conference in Las Vegas in May.

In other Green Party news, Jill Stein will join Kent Mesplay and Harley Mikkelson on the presidential primary ballot in Massachusetts.

It has been an up and down week for the Boston Tea Party presidential campaign. Accusations were made that presidential nominee Tiffany Briscoe falsified her resume. Party chair Darryl W. Perry demanded a response from the campaign, which came from Briscoe today. It appears that matters are all cleared up, and the party can resume working for ballot access in what it anticipates will be as many as 17 states. The Briscoe-Barrick campaign will release its platform later this month. We advise that Briscoe no longer give her campaign manager, Pierre Creveaux, so much liberty to speak or write on her behalf without oversight. Libertarian campaigns have enough of a struggle to get on ballots and have their platforms heard by the voters. In this uphill battle, they do not need to give their opponents easy opportunities to discredit them.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weekly Policy Round-Up 2

Nick Gillespie & Meredith Bragg, Reason: Hit & Run, 01/10/2012
The Congressional Budget Office projects that if we keep spending the way we have been, federal debt held by the public will grow from around 60 percent of GDP to a whopping 82 percent of GDP over the next decade, with no end in sight. That’s the sort of borrowing that can ruin a country's economy.
Tad DeHaven, Cato@Liberty, 01/13/2012
As I discuss in a Cato essay on the SBA, rather than helping small businesses compete against big businesses, the SBA’s loan guarantees mainly help a tiny share of small businesses compete against other small businesses. In reality, the biggest beneficiary of the SBA is the banks, which reap the profits from the loans guaranteed by the agency.
Merging Wasteful Agencies Won't Shrink Government (audio)
Cato Daily Podcast, 01/13/2012
The real purpose of these agencies is politics. Every member of Congress wants to say that they support small business, because they support funding to the SBA.
The inefficiency of merging agencies was demonstrated by the failure of the Department of Homeland Security, which only added a new level of bureaucracy. Contrary to what many fake conservative politicians will tell you, consolidating government does not shrink government. In almost every case that we have observed, it has lead to an increase in government.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rethinking Anti-spending Rhetoric

On yesterday's The Daily Show, Jon Stewart didn't interview Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) as expected. He debated him. He challenged him and made the most convincing case in favor of government spending that I have ever heard. While I continue to disagree with Jon Stewart in principle on the issue of government spending, I think he raises some good points in criticizing the "apocalyptic" and polarizing language used by "Tea Party" activists and questioning the motives behind government spending cuts. Are we making cuts just for the sake of making cuts, or are we considering the value of each program and finding smartest way to create alternatives?

This debate is well worth considering for those of us who side with Sen. DeMint on seeking significant spending cuts at the federal level. Jon Stewart won this debate. Let's be honest, he completely owned Sen. DeMint. The "Tea Party Movement" and others seeking federal spending cuts must watch this debate and rethink our rhetoric:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 Presidential Campaign News

At the center of attention in the 2012 Presidential race is the Republican nomination. After a tight 3 way race in Iowa between Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul, Romney is the clear front-runner in New Hampshire. However, a poll released today shows a drop for Romney to 35%, only 15% ahead of Ron Paul. Ron Paul positioned himself well in the NH debates, drawing a clear distinction between himself and 3rd place Santorum and 4th place Newt Gingrich.

Gary Johnson left the race for the Republican nomination, saying,
Frankly, I have been deeply disappointed by the treatment I received in the Republican nomination process. Other candidates with no national name identification like Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman were allowed to participate in the debates.
Incredibly candidates with no executive experience like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum were allowed to participate while I, a successful two-term governor with a solid record of job creation, was arbitrarily excluded by elitist media organizations in New York. My appeals to the Republican National Chairman for basic fairness were ignored.
Johnson's switch is to the benefit of "small L" libertarians everywhere. It provided the Libertarian Party with a high profile candidate, while it united libertarian Republicans behind one candidate, Ron Paul, who jumped into the top tier at about the same time that Johnson dropped out of the race. The Republican Liberty Caucus endorsed Ron Paul only 2 days after Johnson's departure.

Other prospective candidates for the Libertarian Party's nomination include RJ Harris, a 3-tour Army National Guard combat veteran who ran for Congress in 2010 with Rand Paul's endorsement. Carl Person is an attorney and was a candidate for Attorney General in New York. Air Force veteran Lee Wrights is another war veteran, anti-war candidate, running with the slogan, "Stop all war." He recently wrote a criticism of the Fair Tax, proposing that we eliminate the federal income tax and replace it with nothing (one of the top principles of Ron Paul's 2008 campaign).

Jill Stein announced her candidacy for the Green Party in October. Stein criticizes the Obama stimulus plan for costing $288,055 per job created. She advocates a $666 billion plan to create $17.5 million jobs. She claims that she can create jobs at a net cost of $28,600. Since she advocates infrastructure investments as a significant portion of the jobs plan, how would she supply the necessary materials to support the projects and still spend only $28,600 per laborer? Stein makes an interesting point, citing Rutgers University professor Philip Harvey,
Harvey notes that all these jobs increase tax revenues that defray the costs of the program. Government saves money on unemployment insurance and other safety net programs.
Harvey's work is something we intend to research, as we will probably see it come up again in the campaign.

Green Party activist Kent Mesplay is also running for the party's nomination, announcing:
I run to counter-balance the wrath of the “right” toward immigrants, toward Mexicans, toward Native peoples. I am a life-long advocate of rain-forest dwellers and First Nations folk within our borders. Greens value diversity, justice and representation. I do this from my cross-cultural basis, my upbringing
In late December, the Boston Tea Party nominated Tiffany Briscoe along with VP candidate Kimberly Johnson. Briscoe has a platform that should be well received by libertarians. The Briscoe campaign has unfortunately faced criticism by her former BTP nomination opponent Robert Milnes. Milnes has accused her of lying on her resumé. This was no surprise, considering Milnes' history of aggressive pursuit of a "Progressive Libertarian Alliance" candidacy for President. His PLA plan has not been well received by the Libertarian, Green, or Boston Tea parties in the 2008 or 2012 presidential campaigns. Briscoe finally cleared up the allegation, but I am sure that isn't the last she will hear from Robert Milnes. Another obstacle for Briscoe will be cleaning up her platform. It is overall very well organized, but there are a few conflicts in her tax policy which were brought up by a commenter at Independent Political Report. Taxation is one of the hottest issues in this campaign, so she will need to better define her policies on the flat tax and estate tax. The Spooner Institute would advocate the elimination of both the federal income tax and the estate tax. As a minimum we should bring federal taxation back to the pre-income tax system that we used for over 100 prosperous years.