President Transparency, reports Michael Krieger, has decided to erase sections of his original campaign website so that
inconvenient and broken promises can’t be so easily exposed.
The following was candidate Obama’s position on whistleblowers.
Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information
about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government
employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such
acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and
often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled.
We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and
partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws
to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of
authority in government. Obama
will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing
whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and
It seems that I have been largely incommunicado here. Most of you will know that it’s because I’ve launched a race for the Nebraska Legislature, and have just been seriously bogged down with laying groundwork for that effort. Plus, I just returned from a 12 day vacation with the family.
For those who are interested, my website launched, officially, today. You can head over here to see it. We’ll be adding content as we go, but I’m really quite pleased with the way it turned out.
As for the vacation—the family and I road-tripped to the East Coast (not a short trip, for those who don’t know their geography). We visited the Gettysburg National Battlefield, then Antietam National Battlefield—and were reminded of just what an awful thing the Civil War was, regardless of whether you agree with the stated principles on either side. The death and destruction—of Americans, in America, by Americans—on both sides, was sobering.
We spent 2 full days touring the lion’s den (or snake pit) that is Washington, D.C. I came to one very important conclusion as we were moving as fast as our 6 sets of legs would carry us around the National Mall in the middle of a major heat wave in D.C.: if you’re going to D.C., either schedule yourself for many days, and see the things you want casually over those days; or just accept that you’re not going to see everything. Sometimes—especially toward the end of the day, things were almost this bad:
We traveled to Virginia Beach, where we spent 6 nights. We enjoyed the time on the beach—and the good thing is, none of us got TOO sunburned. The males in the group enjoyed architectural design:
But probably my personal favorite was the day trip to Colonial Williamsburg. The best part of that? Other than taking a wrong turn as I headed toward the Governor’s Palace and walking about a half mile further than I needed to in 100 degree weather? This:
This is an actor, portraying Patrick Henry. It was quite good—the actor was able to stay in character, but also made winking references to modern day events (for instance, we were supposedly in 1778 or 79 during this talk, but when asked a question, he referred to his "visionary abilities” and talked about how the Federalists would expect the states to go along with the Constitution and a promise of a Bill of Rights—which they hadn’t even seen. He said something to the effect of “They believe that we need to pass the Constitution before we can see what’s going to be in the Bill of Rights! Can you imagine that happening?” Reference was obviously to Nancy Pelosi’s infamous comment regarding Obamacare and needing to “pass the bill to know what’s in it.” I got the feeling that the 50 or so people in attendance at this event might have been of similar minds—sort of anti-federalist in nature.
Our drive home was grueling—17 hours on the first day, 7 on the second. But it’s great to be home…
Le tango prepétual by Eric Satiewas written in May 1914, in the days leading to the end of La Belle Époque.
In his autobiography, Stefan Zweig portrays the contrasting epochs that existed before and after the First World War, whose approach and outbreak he describes here:
The first paragraph of his masterful autobiography offers us this memento:
When I attempted to find a
simple formula for the period in which I grew up, prior to the First World War
I hope that I convey its fullness by calling it the Golden Age of Security.
Everything in our almost thousand year-old Austrian monarchy seemed based on
per- manency, and the State itself was the chief guarantor of this stability.
The rights which it granted to its citizens were duly confirmed by parliament,
the freely elected representative of the people) and every duty was exactly
prescribed. Our currency, the Austrian crown circulated in bright gold pieces
an assurance of its immutability. Everyone knew how much he possessed or what
he was entitled to what was permitted and what forbidden. Everything had its
norm its definite measure and weight. He who had a fortune could accurately
compute his annual interest. An official or an officer for example, could
confidently look up in the calendar the year when he would be advanced in rank,
or when he would be pensioned. Each family had its fixed budget, and knew how
much could be spent for rent and food, for holidays and entertainment; and what
is more, invariably a small sum was carefully laid aside for sickness and the
doctor's bills, for the unexpected. Whoever owned a house looked upon it as a
secure domicile for his children and grandchildren; estates and businesses were
handed down from generation to generation. When the babe was still in its
cradle, its first mite was put in its little bank, or deposited in the savings
bank, as a "reserve” for the future. In this vast empire everything stood
firmly and immovably in its appointed place, and at its head was the aged
emperor; and were he to die, one knew (or believed) another would come to take
his place, and nothing would change in the well-regulated order. No one thought
of wars, of revolutions, or revolts. All that was radical, all violence, seemed
impossible in an age of reason.
He backtracked from that position a little, but he won't ever be a small government guy and his most recent weekly newsletter really highlights the core ideological differences between the casual GOP voters and the party leaders.
Anuzis opens it with the Detroit bankruptcy and a rousing "It will be back!" statement we here in Michigan have been hearing for 20 years or so. In that paragraph, he notes,
people are hoping that bankruptcy, the largest of its kind on U.S.
soil, will give Detroit another chance. But that'll remain wishful
thinking until Detroit reverses its backward economic strategy.
city that showers subsidies on well-connected businesses while
thwarting individual entrepreneurs and ignoring basic services is
writing its obituary — not its second act."
A thought I agree with on the surface. But remember, his wing of the party just pushed through the farm subsidy bill that hands out the overwhelming majority of other people's money to the biggest corporate farmers in America, not to the family farmers.
And they got it passed by taking food stamps out of the package.
As I wrote about here, that's just the opposite of what we the little people want. While the Democrats wanted both sides of the original bill , the corporate subsidies and the food stamps. We the fiscal conservatives want business (and I am including farming in that definition) to be profitable without subsidies.
We also want people to live without subsidies, but like it or not there is a percentage of the voters who think that the federal government should indeed hand out food. And quashing food stamps in a sluggish economy, especially while handing out record setting amounts of cash to millionaire farmers, isn't a smart move politically. But are we really supposed to believe that there is a huge voting bloc that wants the federal government to give money to corporate America while slashing welfare?
No, we aren't. We are just supposed mindlessly cheer on the fact that the Democrats didn't get their food stamps passed while ignoring the fact that the GOP just handed truckloads of our children's cash to corporate America. These guys might be Republicans, but they are not conservatives.
About the Obama decision to delay implementing the employer requirement of Obamacare, Anuzis goes on to say:
(Obama) has abandoned Congress and is seeking to rule through administrative agencies and executive orders that, in our system of government, make him as near to a despot as we are ever likely to get – knock wood.
Right. Ignoring 2013 Congress is bad. We agree on that. But when 2008 Congress twice voted not to send Detroit any money, and President Bush said he didn't care, that he was taking the money from TARP regardless, where was Anuzis?
Oh, that's right. He was singing the praises of the man smart enough to save Detroit.
He then goes on to discuss some different variations of the Flat Tax. Great plan, except that he's already talking about preserving the Earned Income Credit, mortgage deductions, health insurance deductions, and blah blah blah. With leaders like him in charge, the "simpler" tax system will end up even more convoluted than what we currently suffer.
Next, Anuzis mentions the 2016 primary season:
See anybody there that excites you? Yeah, me either.
Anuzis then goes on to attack Jim DeMint in is new position as the president of The Heritage Foundation ("DeMint is diminishing one of the party’s most powerful intellectual engines by turning it into a group taking cheap shots at Republicans"), defending John Boehner, ("He’s a conservative, certainly, but also an institutionalist, an old-school politician who likes to do deals; as his months-long effort to concoct a “grand bargain” with Obama on the budget showed, he has an interest, at 63, in leaving a legacy of bipartisan accomplishments behind him,") and pointing out that the electorate isn't blaming the GOP for the sluggish economy any longer.
It's like they are perfectly content for the 2016 GOP campaign slogan to be "At least we aren't Democrats on the surface!"
But there is hope. Change can be a slow process, but think about this: When I first became aware of Anuzis, he was Chairman of the MI GOP. He then moved up from there to the GOP Committeeman seat. But then things started changing. He ran for RNC chair and lost. He lost his reelection to the committee seat, too. Heck, most of the candidates he endorses these days lose too.
But this match is just beginning. Wrestling power away from this wing of the party won't be easy, but make no mistake - these are the people we need to remove completely from power. Republicans like Anuzis talk the talk, but once they win the power back they do not hesitate to abandon the principles of the electorate.
As central as self-ownership is for R.’s argument, the term remains undefined. Why? The term is undefinable, because the notion of ownership in a legal (as opposed to its anthropological) sense cannot be unconditional, it cannot be absolute.
As a legal category ownership becomes discernible only thanks to a boundary line that separates mine and thine. In this sense, ownership is a mine that restricts the thine, and a thine that restricts the mine. For ownership implies claims against other human beings (“I am the boss on these premises,” “you may not enter this property without my consent”); these claims in turn are not unrestricted. They are circumscribed by the valid/enforceable claims of others (” You are not entitled to slapping me in the face just because I am visiting you at YOUR apartment, i.e. your claim of ownership does not override my claim of inviolacy, but is restricted by it”).
The legal category of ownership is not a quality that inheres in the isolated individual, but a feature of interpersonal relations. Ownership in the legal sense is a relational concept, an institution for the regulation of social relations.
By deriving the meaning of absolute self-ownership from a context – a Robinson Crusoe world – void of, in fact, consciously cleared of social relations, R. has dug a pit for himself to fall into.
Taken as a concept referring to features of personal autonomy – an anthropological category -, self ownership may arguably be regarded as pointing to something “absolute” . After all, such features represent conditions and qualities of human existence that are essentially invariant. That is to say: in order to survive man must do certain things that absolutely only he can do, things no one can do for him and cannot happen to another person in his stead (you cannot yourself drink so as to quench another person’s thirst; my stomach cannot digest food for another human being to be nourished etc). R. falls into the ditch he has dug for himself, the moment he begins to interpret the anthropological concept of absolute self-ownership in a legal sense.
He fails to take account of the pulsating, ever changing nexus of mutually constraining relations of ownership that are constantly being negotiated and fought over amongst human beings. The mesh of personal rights is a living organism that man is incessantly in the process of bringing about in ever new shapes, not only but often consciously and to a purpose; by no means is it true that each compromise, each stipulation of mutual restrictions brought about in the process of negotiating rights is perceived as an unbearable imposition, a case of scandalous defiance of some absolute rights.
What is true of the economic dealings of man, namely that there are no solutions, there are only trade-offs, as Thomas Sowell puts it, also holds good for law and other manifestations of moral conduct: perfect and final solutions are hardly to be expected, one may rather hope for a give and take leading to compromises that are generally or preponderantly viewed as admissible and reasonable.
Ultimately, R. rejects the two alternatives to his ethics of self-ownership on the grounds that they are incompatible with a legal system supported by universalisable rules.
Universalisability, Relational Law and Monadic Law
Yet, it is R.’s ethics that is not universalisable:
Living on my own on a remote island, my right of absolute self-ownership may entail that I play tennis at midnight using a ball serving machine. However, the right of absolute self-ownership evaporates the moment I am joined by a neighbour – who himself once lived alone on a remote island, enjoying as part of his absolute right of self-ownership the ability to sleep soundly and undisturbed at midnight.
At least one of the two will have to put up with restrictions to his rights that used to be uncontested by anyone and absolute; perhaps even both will accept restraints, if they agree to a trade-off of mutual concessions.
This concessional law – as I prefer to call it in contradistinction to the law of absolute self-ownership -, this concept of law as an instrument for regulating social relations, this relational law (rather than R.’s monadic law) that R. quite simply ignores is in fact perfectly amenable to universalisable principles of law.
Viewed in this light, it is helpful to distinguish two types of legal propositions – those capable of universalisation and those that cannot be universalised. The former serve the purpose of furthering predictability in human interaction and creating a framework within which specific, non-universalisable contractual arrangements can be pursued in a legal environment that protects the players against arbitrariness.
If, for argument’s sake, tennis player A and B, his neighbour in need of sleep, conclude a contract such that B agrees to A’s tennis playing at midnight, provided that A pays for the fitting of soundproof windows, then, of course, this specific stipulation is not a legal proposition of the universalisable kind, while at the same time universalisable legal principles are nonetheless involved in that for instance the agreement is based on the understanding that contracts are to be honoured.
At the end of the day, R.’s justification of anarchism reveals itself as eyewash. It is his being given to hyperrationalistic ambitions that gets R. distracted from the real conditions under which the processes of law unfold. He is entirely focused on aspects that seem to him to show promise for a dogmatic entrenchment of anarchism in a foundation of irrevocable truths capable of supporting a theory and an order of law that are believed by him to be consummate and irrefutable.
It appears that R. has sacrificed truth for an urge to achieve unassailable certainty, a criterion of valid knowledge obsolete long-since.
Here is a very short version of the chain of arguments used by Murray N. Rothbard (henceforth R.) to justify his commitment to anarchism:
He commences his argument by offering an axiom that isn’t an axiom – at least not in the sense of a proposition that is irreducibly basic, self-evident, or requires no further elucidation, and can be combined with other statements to derive a system of propositions that is perfectly self-consistent.
Specifically, R. posits the non-aggression-”axiom”, which roughly states that aggression is admissible only when resorted to for the purpose of self-defence, i.e. to fend off transgressions against the own self and property legitimately associated to the self.
In order to derive a proof for the “axiom”, R. introduces the term self-ownership. Every human being is supposed to have “an absolute right to self ownership”. Self-ownership is nature-given; for if a person is denied the exercise of the right to self-ownership he cannot ensure his survival.
The only system of law that is truly compatible with a consistent, universalisable ethics must be based upon the idea of “absolute self-ownership.” The only alternatives to this system of law are (1) communism, and (2) the dictatorship of a minority over a majority, i.e. (ad 1) the ownership of all by all, or (ad 2) the ownership of all by a minority. R. supposes that in reality (1) leads to (2), while (2) is not an ethically acceptable regime of law as – of necessity – it precludes universal application of the law.
With his ethics of absolute self-ownership, R. believes to have elucidated a theory and an order of (natural) law that is entirely conclusive and morally impeccable.
Self-ownership is a demand of nature herself, a demand of natural law. He who violates natural law acts contrary to nature, contrary to natural law. Since the state curtails the right of self-ownership, the state is contrary to nature, contrary to natural law. Freedom requires that human beings can live according to their right of self-ownership; hence it is necessary to abolish the state if freedom is to prevail.
A Critique of Rothbard's Argument in Favour of Anarchism
In my opinion, Rothbard’s argument can be shown to contain a number of errors. However, before turning to these flaws, a preliminary consideration is in order:
Human beings as individuals betray features of personal autonomy, i.e. certain qualities inhere in the individual that entirely depend on the specific person, and cannot be effected by or occur in anyone else but that specific person. Such features range from nature’s call to personal mental associations motivating specific human action.
To buttress his argument, R. highlights a subset of these features of personal autonomy, namely those that concern the individual’s ability to ensure his survival, declaring these to be manifestations of the nature-given self-ownership of each human being.
However, at this juncture of the unfolding argument already two errors have slipped in.
(i) Ignoring the Difference between Ownership as an Anthropological versus a Legal Condition
Considering the use by R. of the same term “ownership” in two different contexts, it is important to recognise the clear distinction between features of personal autonomy as anthropological phenomena as opposed to legal circumstances that are referred to by the term “ownership.”
From the fact that human beings reveal features of personal autonomy does not already follow which property rights prevail, which property rights are desirable or may be looked upon as desirable, or which property rights can feasibly be established given the historic conditions.
While features of personal autonomy are nature-given, it is not true that certain distinct legal or property relations are prefigured within these features. The kinds of ownership rights that an individual may have or considers desirable are determined by processes that are in no way specifically fixed by features of personal autonomy. Rather to the contrary, features of personal autonomy are encountered invariantly in the most diverse range of legal and property orders.
Casually speaking, the propertyless Neanderthaler was no different from propertied modern man in that he too could not have another man do his breathing in his stead.
(ii) Ignoring Other Conditions of Survival That Are Complementary and Superordinate to Self-Ownership
R. does not take notice of the fact that anthropological self-ownership is first and foremost coerced ownership, imposed ownership, a gift one might happily accept in certain circumstances, while wishing it away in different circumstances, for it is not ownership of the fungible, not of the alienable type, while it is often burdensome, torturous, dangerous or deadly, like a man’s death by cancer that no other person can suffer in his stead.
Instead, R. highlights one-sidedly and arbitrarily those features of personal autonomy that play a role in ensuring survival, while at the same time overdrawing the role played therein by the individual’s mind and action, his free will in its capacity as a tool of survival.
As if in his efforts at survival, the individual were not also vitally dependent on factors that precede, make possible to begin with and indispensably complement personal autonomy. Man must be sired, born, raised and educated. All along he is dependent upon traditions and social relations that do not belong within the range of personal autonomy. Man’s dependence on influences that lie outside of the command of his personal autonomy entails the permanent need to accept, seek and adapt to constraints of his “right to absolute self-ownership.”
If there is indeed something nature-given among matters pertaining to the law, it is the need for man to incessantly and often severely curb his demands for self-ownership. Man needs to relinquish “absolute self-ownership” in order to survive. The exact opposite of R.’s contention that man has a right to “absolute ownership” since such ownership is needed to ensure his survival.
I often think of Laura Ebke, our wonderful hostess here at RedStateEclectic. Even more so now that she is especially active in the world of politics, where she belongs in her capacity as a talented, level-headed, yet passionate, and always honest representative of the ideals of freedom.
It is a standard complaint of mine that many liberty-minded people tend to become so consumed with their criticism of politics and the state that they effectively turn into anarchists, refusing to defend and build freedom by participating in politics and thus helping to shape government and the state in a way inclined toward liberty.
Laura is pursuing the important task of fostering freedom in the political arena. A tough challenge as the below film on the rivalry between Gladstone and Disraeli vividly illustrates. I submit the video in honour of Laura Ebke:
Matt Ridley has an excellent piece on Alan Turing, the man who ensured that a computer would no longer be a mere human being.
In 1936, aged 24, Turing wrote: “We may now construct a machine
to do the work of this computer.” It makes no sense today, but
that’s because of what Turing wrought. In 1933 a computer was a
person, usually a woman, who knew how to compute. Machines existed
to help her — calculating machines, cash registers, telephone
switchboards — but only to do specific things. A general purpose
computer that could be “programmed” was an idea that had not even
been thought. [...]
What Turing understood was that a sufficiently well designed
machine — what we would now call a Turing machine — could do almost
anything, because both its data and instructions could be fed into
it in the form of numbers. His paper, called “On computable numbers
with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem”, was
addressed to an esoteric question in mathematics being debated
between two Germans, David Hilbert and Kurt Gödel. It was in the
method he used to tackle the question that Turing made his
It seems obvious now that you can feed information into a
computer and change its “state of mind” — make it a word processor
or a video player or a spreadsheet. But this was brand new in 1936.
It was the great Hungarian mathematician John von Neumann who took
Turing’s insight and turned it into a universal architecture for
computers — memory and processor, data and programs — that we all
“In order to be a perfect and beautiful computing machine,
it is not requisite to know what arithmetic is.” Lumps of silicon
and copper can book airline tickets and simulate economies — they
do not have to be specialised as travel agents or economists. This
also had implications for the study of the human brain, which came
to be seen at least partly as general purpose hardware running
software called culture.
When the war broke out, Turing’s genius proved as practical as
it had been ethereal in the 1930s. His crucial contributions to
three successive computing innovations at Bletchley Park — the
“bombe” machines for replicating the settings of the German Enigma
encryption machine, the later cracking of the naval Enigma machine
enabling U-boat traffic to be read, and finally the Colossus
computer that broke the Germans’ “tunny” cipher machine — provided
Churchill with the famous “ultra” decrypts that almost certainly
shortened the war and saved millions of lives in battlefields,
ships and camps.
Yesterday in Houston, Black Panther leader Quanell X organized a traffic-stop protest of the "Not Guilty" verdict found in the murder trial of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed a 17 year old youth, Trayvon Martin.
I'm always a fan of a good protest but sometimes their objectives elude me. Antiwar protests may have been a Democrat sham but at least they had a stated objective. But as with the Occupy protests, the Trayvon protestors seem to be representing anger without any particular goal.
I hear they want "justice" but what exactly is that? Do they want to eliminate our trial-by-jury system and replace it with mob rule? Trial by professional, politically connected jurors perhaps? Maybe trial by media? Verdicts rendered by elected officials?
Or perhaps they simply want to take away the right to plead self-defense?
And even more confusing to me? What are the people of Houston supposed to do about a verdict that was rendered in a Florida court?