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I for one don't really get worked up about our new foreign overlords

Xenophobia: it's not just for Republicans anymore. Taegan Goddard, who appears to be some sort of robotic DNC agent, passes along a Newsweek story about how foreign companies might influence elections in the US. You see, many American companies are foreign-owned, and since United Citizens v. FEC allowed corporations to get elected to the Senate for a fixed sum, furners might run the country! Oh noes!

Also, note how artlessly they bring up this worry. If you're going down that path, at least do it like you yourself believe it. You'll get more votes that way, which is the entire point of political pandering. (Better still, don't go down that path at all.) Doing it this way makes you look evil and foolish.


"Reason devoted to politics fights for its own dethronement"

Gotta love me some Benjamin Tucker. Here he makes the same argument against participation in the political process that I made two years ago: Not that political participation is immoral, but that it is illogical when combined with other beliefs.

After laying it down as a principle that force is never justifiable (and, by the way, I cannot accept so absolute a denial of force as this, though I heartily agree that force is futile in almost all circumstances), he goes on as follows: "If it is not justifiable for the establishment and maintenance of government, neither is it justifiable for the overthrow or modification of government...The intellectual and moral process of regeneration is slower than force, but it is right; and when the work is thus done, it has the merit of having been done properly and thoroughly." So far, excellent. But mark the next sentence: "the ballot is the people's agency even for correcting its own evils, and it seems to me a social crime to refrain from its use for regenerative purposes until it is absolutely demonstrated that it is a failure as an instrument for freedom."

Now, what is the ballot? It is neither more nor less than a paper representative of the bayonet, the billy, and the bullet. It is a labor-saving device for ascertaining on which side force lies and bowing to the inevitable. The voice of the majority saves bloodshed, but it is no less the arbitrament of force than is the decree of the most absolute of despots backed by the most powerful of armies. Of course it may be claimed that the struggle to attain to the majority involves an incidental use of intellectual and moral processes; but these influences would exert themselves still more powerfully in other channels if there were no such thing as the ballot, and, when used as subsidiary to the ballot, they represent only a striving for the time when physical force can be substituted for them. Reason devoted to politics fights for its own dethronement. The moment the minority becomes the majority, it ceases to reason and persuade, and begins to command and enforce and punish. If this be true, - and I think that Mr. Pentecost will have difficulty in gainsaying it, - it follows that to use the ballot for the modification of government is to use force for the modification of government; which sequence makes it at once evident that Mr. Pentecost in his conclusion pronounces it a social crime to avoid that course which in his premise he declares unjustifiable.

It behooves Mr. Pentecost to examine this charge of inconsistency carefully, for his answer to it must deeply affect his career. If he finds that it is well-founded, the sincerity of his nature will oblige him to abandon all such political measures as the taxation of land values and the government ownership of banks and railroads and devote himself to Anarchism, which offers not only the goal that he seeks, but confines itself to those purely educational methods of reaching it with which he finds himself in sympathy.

Reason devoted to politics fights for its own dethronement. A phrase so well crafted I'd like to put it on a bumpersticker, if I were a bumpersticker kind of guy, which I'm not.


Code Blue on Health Care

I was amazed at Scott Brown's victory three nights ago; it sparked some interest in politics within me. I'm further amazed today at how quickly and thoroughly health care momentum has died in the preceding three days. Rachel Maddow said Tuesday night that the Democrats had to push the bill through despite what Brown's victory, and she kept insisting that the real story was how poorly Coakley ran the campaign, not any underlying anger from the "middle". She lost major credibility that night.

Since then, Obama's poll numbers have dropped (could be noise), Nancy Pelosi has said there aren't enough votes to push the House bill through, and a large majority of a poll wants Democrats to drop the current health care bill. Some Democrats want to "take a breather" from health care reform for the time being. Nobody other than Obama has come and said, full speed ahead, damn the torpedos.

If that happens, it's over. It'll be another 15 years before it appears again in the political discourse. I don't see any "re-packaged" bill, even with Republican input, passing.


Glenn Greenwald on Citizens United v. FEC

Campaign finance laws are a bit like gun control statutes: actual criminals continue to possess large stockpiles of weapons, but law-abiding citizens are disarmed.

As they say, read the whole thing.


What are the Left's objections to the free speech argument against campaign finance restrictions?

Jonathan wrote below:

I get the free speech argument; I just don't think anyone left of center buys it.

I think this is true for the most part, but it puzzles me: Why does the left reject the free speech argument against campaign finance restrictions?

A lefty friend of mine wrote as her Facebook status message:

"Big business: +1000000. Democracy and the American people: 0.
Down with corporate personhood!!!!"

and then linked to this Reuters article titled "Landmark Supreme Court ruling allows corporate political cash."

So I understand her objection to be something about corporate personhood. I understand and partially agree with some of the left (often left-libertarian) critiques of corporate personhood, especially the concept of limited liability, which invalidates the notion that all corporations are are simply groups of people pooling their resources together for a common goal. For if this were truly the case, corporate shareholders would be held liable for losses caused by management, just as partners in a legal partnership are held liable for losses caused by their partners. Of course, I understand why courts may not hold shareholders to the same degree of responsibility as partners in a firm, but I can hear reasonable arguments either way.

But none of this dispute has anything to do with the issue of speech. As far as I can tell, the rallying cry "Down with corporate personhood" may nor may not be called for in the case of limited liability, but it surely is not called for in the case of corporate donations to help politicians get elected. After all, even if the legal concept of limited liability were abandoned, people would still get together in groups, and sometimes pool their money together to speak as a single, more powerful voice. How can anyone who supports the concept of free speech object to this?

Here is how I responded to her on Facebook:

A very good ruling my book. Here is a libertarian perspective on the issue: http://reason.com/blog/2010/01/22/obama-bemoans-the-stampede-whi

How is lobbying money spent by political interest groups *not* an example of free speech, deserving First Amendment protection? Just because some lobbyist groups get their money from corporations? So what? Are corporate political donations at all different from, say, gun enthusiasts all getting together and lobbying politicians (the NRA), civil liberties enthusiasts all getting together and lobbying politicians (the ACLU), elderly people all getting together and lobbying politicians (the AARP, or American Association of Retired Persons, which is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the United States according to Wikipeda)?

A pull quote from the article linked above: "[A]ren't [Democrats who control Congress and the White House] the ones who are inviting a horde of lobbyists to descend upon Washington by aggressively expanding the size and scope of government?"

In other words, the more of the economy the government controls (healthcare, retirement, the auto industry, the financial sector), the more incentive there is for wealthy, powerful people to pool together with others (who are sometimes not so wealthy but numerous) to lobby politicians to direct that portion of the economy in their favor. This creates the classic regulatory capture that public choice economists and political scientists warn about. The only way to get money out of politics is to get politics out of the economy.


How I shook hands with the theocratic statist-right.

Original content for the DR.

I was in the midst of getting a cup of coffee from downstairs when I was beckoned to a side office. Sue Lowden, who is running for US Senate against the much maligned statist Harry Reid, was paying our office a visit.

By what appears to be coincidence, not but 30 minutes earlier I had read a piece by Justin Raimondo over at Antiwar.com, which had an advertisement for Sue Lowdens campaign. Creepy but true. I read Sue's opinion on the issues and found that I almost resoundingly disagree with her on everything. Which is fine, because I have been resisting the urge to vote for a long time now.

What are the odds? I don't know, but what I do know is that the owners of the company I work for are Republicans, and participate/donate heavily in the local state party machine. This means the office is frequently visited by candidates of one caliber or another. No surprise, the last company I worked for in this state had many fund raisers for local campaigns. This allowed me the opportunity to shake hands with many a future judge and politician. Among the more notables, I once had the chance to meet former-Sheriff Bill Young of Clark County and his future-now-current replacement Doug Gillespie.

Bill Young was interesting, we chatted about our mutual enthusiasm for personal firearms ownership while munching on various forms of cheese and seafood. His buddy Doug, scared me, I shook his hand but I voted for Airola. That was back in the day when I still voted, but I digress.

Sue Lowden was the original reason for this post. I knew how she stood on most every issue, except the war. At this point, with the memory still fresh in my mind, I should have realized that the reason she didn't talk about the war on her site. Sue failed to mention the ongoing atrocity for the simple fact that her potential voting pool is mostly comprised of pro-war statist-right individuals.

Into the office I venture, the room is occupied by Sue and about 4 other persons. Introductions are made, in which I shake her hand after shifting the coffee cup out of my dominant hand. Short of stature but very commanding, that is how I would describe her presence. I mentioned how I read her website and even threw in the part about how I found it through antiwar. She took the opportunity to laud her web campaign and how it is an essential tool for getting to the young people. She said to me, "I have more facebook friends than Harry Reid". We all shared a laugh and I took the opportunity to poke more fun at Harry by saying that she probably has more friends in general than Senator Reid.

I told her that any vote against Reid is a good vote, her response was that she would prefer me to vote for her instead of against Reid. So she gave me the opening to pose a question, I seized the opportunity to ask about her stance on the war. Her opinion is: We are there now, we should make sure our boys and girls have what they need to win.

Obviously uncomfortable with her response, she asked me what I think we should do. I told her that I agree with Representative Paul from Texas, who said that "We marched right in there we can march right out". All she could do was repeat her mantra of "We are there now, we should make sure our boys and girls have what they need to win."

I nodded in agreement and left, so as to prevent any hard feelings over my obvious disagreement. Off color remarks at work could seriously interfere with future employment.

So I clocked out for lunch and typed this up. I also found a suitable image. Thanks to Carlos Latuff.

Now I sit here almost completely dumbfounded by the blood-lust of the sedentary. With the unborn being the only exception, the apparent disregard for all human life by those in the theocratic statist-right is appalling.

Voting just makes people like Sue think that the status-quo is OK.

Two of every three Massachusettsians either didn’t want what Brown, Coakley and Kennedy were offering, or weren’t asked.

If that happened in Iran or Venezuela, the US State Department would strain its public relations muscles pumping out press releases on the significance of the “massive election boycott” or the “general voter strike” and asserting that “the people” had spoken clearly in rejection of the the regimes which rule them.

Since it happened in America, we’re expected to go along with the pretense that a “majority” sent Scott Brown to Washington. But no such majority for Brown exists. He was the choice of fewer than one in five of his fellow citizens, and more than three in five appear to have either been disenfranchised or to have rejected the notion that they require representation in, or consider themselves in any way bound by the edicts of, the US Senate.

- Thomas Knapp at C4SS

I am part of the REAL silent majority. The non-voting, alienated persons who simply want to be left alone. These wars are predicated under the false assumptions of imperialists who cannot recognize that our situation is CIA blowback, manifest.


Consequentialist arguments for UC vs FEC?

I get the free speech argument; I just don't think anyone left of center buys it. So let's make some consequentialist arguments. Here are some off the top of my head:

* Limiting a free market results not in no market, but rather a political market. All this does is drive market transactions underground. See Drug War, prostitution, ticket scalping, and college basketball recruiting. If we want more transparency, then we want a less restricted market.

* States that allow unlimited corporate funding of ads like Virginia aren't any more corrupt than those that don't.

Any others?


United Citizens v. FEC

All of the lefty hang-wringing over the decision in United Citizens vs. FEC is missing a big point: corporations as they currently exist are a product of government intervention in the economy. They only exist because of the government in the first place. Fight about band-aid solutions all you want, but there's that one glaring fact right in front of you. I say let's let businesses decide for themselves (and only themselves) what kind of organization is best, and not grant them any spurious protections. That'll do a lot more than any kind of campaign finance law.

That's not all. Worried that corporations might exert undue influence in election cycles? The System is run by elites, and no matter what the laws are will always primarily serve the elites. Did you receive any of the hundreds of billions of dollars of bailout money, or did it all go to large corporations or other branches of the government? Without being freed to boost their interests as they now are, corporations still won that one. With our government, they never lose.


Guevara, asesino

Nick Gillespie has a great post about the murderous Che Guevara.

Previous Catallarchy/Distributed Republic treatment of Che by yours truly here.


Keith Olbermann is a joke

Jon Stewart rightfully calls out Keith Olbermann for his amazingly ludicrous description of Scott Brown. Stewart tears up his convoluted reasoning.

Two points:

1) While on this rare occasion Stewart goes after a lefty, he does so with a grudging respect, with the underlying message of, "I used to think you were great. You can still be great!"

2) I've always thought Olbermann was awful, but he's gone completely off the deep end. He's downright hateful these days. This is a trend that's all too common for evening political show hosts. They start out with a semblance of respectability but over time, they become more and more polarized. Same thing happened with O'Reilly and Beck. I can't watch any of the 3. Maddow's on her way as well.