Friday, October 31, 2008

A case for McCain?

Over at the Vokokh Conspiracy, blogger and law professor David Bernstein tries to make a libertarian case for John McCain. His arguments fail to sway me -- how anyone who cares about foreign policy or civil liberties can vote Republican this year is beyond me -- but he had one paragraph I loved, so I'll quote it here:

"I think there are two great moral issues in American politics today, the disastrous War on Drugs, and free trade. The War on Drugs, for now, is hopeless. Free trade though, is not. Over the past couple of decades, a (statistical) billion people, more or less, have moved from poverty to the local middle-class because of globalization and free trade, far more people than have been aided by all the liberal do-goodism Obama, or any else, has or can muster. McCain is the candidate of free trade; Obama is the candidate of "fair trade," which in practice means protectionism. McCain's policies have the potential to rescue tens of millions of additional people from poverty, who will stay mired there under Obama. (And I always had at least one soft spot for Bill Clinton, for standing up to the unions and the know nothing wing of his party in favor of free trade and NAFTA)."

At the same blog, Ilya Somin makes an interesting case for divided government, but not enough to overcome the nausea the McCain/Palin ticket induces in me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yes, Barack is better

I don't want my last posting to be misunderstood. I voted for Bob Barr in the current election, but I do think the Obama-Palin ticket is clearly superior to the McCain-Palin ticket. (I cast an early absentee ballot, like many voters in Ohio. I tried to arrange a vote swap, promising to vote for Obama in Ohio if a Democrat in a "safe" Democratic state would vote for Barr, but I got no takers and gave up.)

My big issues in the current election are foreign policy and civil liberties, and Obama is clearly preferable on both to John McCain, who in these two areas seems determined to follow in President Bush's footsteps.

That said, please spare me the rhetoric about how Obama is going to set a new tone in Washington or practice a new kind of politics. Here in Ohio, a key swing state, Obama supporters are engaging in vote fraud. His acolytes in the Strickland Administration are ransacking state databases to dig up dirt on Obama's opponents. Nationwide, the campaign that broke its promise to use public financing is engaging in campaign finance fraud. If anything, this time around the Democrats are dirtier than the Republicans.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Look what you're getting, Obama fans

Leftist writer Alexander Cockburn uncorks a fine rant, insisting that it doesn't make much difference whether McCain or Obama gets elected. I can't totally agree with him, but I think he's a lot closer to being accurate than my old friend Steve Browne, who insists unconvincingly that Obama's apparent impending election is "Russia, 1917, or the end of the Weimar Republic."

A couple of Cockburn's best points deserve amplification. Cockburn writes that Obama "stood against warrantless wiretapping" and then voted in favor of it. To be more precise, Obama promised he would filibuster against any bill that granted amnesty to telecommunications companies that broke the law. Then he voted for the bill without making any effort to block it. That's a hell of a reversal.

Cockburn also writes, "Obama wants to enlarge the armed services by 90,000." I didn't think Cockburn made that up, exactly, but it seemed kind of hard to believe. Maybe Cockburn is putting a negative spin on something a little more benign.

Well, here's the link to the official Obama Web site, which says, "Barack Obama and Joe Biden support plans to increase the size of the Army by 65,000 soldiers and the Marines by 27,000 troops." The page is headlined, "The change we need." A guy who is even more determined than the Republican Party to turn the U.S. into an armed camp does not represent "change."

Cockburn also tells his readers to "read the portions of Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr's platform on foreign policy and constitutional rights." Exactly right. There's one political party left that has a decent platform on civil liberties and militarism — and it's not the Democrats.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Bob Barr interview

I interviewed the Libertarian candidate for president, Bob Barr, along with two other reporters, when he spoke at Oberlin College last week. For anyone who is interested, large excerpts from the interview are here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Selling libertarianism

The new issue of Reason magazine has a David Weigel interview with Bob Barr (not online yet, as far as I can tell) which includes a great Barr quote on how Libertarians should talk to the unconverted:

"Every citizen in this country, I believe, has some area of their lives — whether it's their personal behavior within their homes, whether it's how to educate and discipline their children, whether it's about how to run their business, their political thought, their religious practices — where they want to be left alone. The Libertarian Party, I think, needs to recognize that and appeal to that and draw that out from the American public and the American voters, rather than talk just generally about great philosophical principles."

Friday, October 03, 2008

Well, that didn't take long

The New York Times reports that the British publisher of "The Jewel of Medina," a historical novel about one of the Prophet Muhammad's wives, has survived a firebomb attack on his house.

The attack apparently was incited by inflammatory statements by Denise Spellberg, an associate professor of book burning and incitement at the University of Texas at Austin. The attacks apparently will continue until infidels stop saying that Islam promotes hatred and terrorism.