These are the rants of an anonymous Left-leaning Libertarian. Libertarian views are generally socially liberal but fiscally conservative. I view George Bush as the anti-Libertarian, he is socially conservative and fiscally irresponsible. Unless you are a very wealthy person, religious fundamentalist, or a racist redneck, I cannot understand why a person would support George Bush.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What is a left-libertarian?

I've figured out what I mean by Left-Libertarian. It means that I am a huge proponent of markets to deal with many issues. However . . . and this is a big difference between me and other Libertarians . . . I take a much bigger view of what 'the market' should be.

What that means, is that I feel products and services must fully incorporate their costs into the price of the products and services. And when some cost is not being accounted for in the price of the product/service, the government should add a tax to add that cost into the product/service.

The most obvious example is fossil fuels. Fossil fuels appear to be a relatively inexpensive source of energy. However, one of the reasons for this is that a huge amount of the costs are not being incorporated into the product. Let me list several:
1) The cost of wars waged in part to secure access to fossil fuels. (If you don't believe oil had anything to do with the Iraq war, you are kidding yourself.) Tax-payers pay for this, not the oil companies.
2) The cost to defend supply lines. Those navy ships that patrol the Persian gulf do so in part to protect those oil tankers. Tax-payers pay for this, not the oil companies.
3) The cost of terrorism from terrorists that are funded in-part by oil money. The Saudis fund madrassas world-wide and some of those kids become terrorists.
4) The cost of pollution on public health. Many respitory ailments are caused by particulates from pollution. Coal-fired power plants release particulates, mercury, etc. . . . even the ash from such plants is a toxic waste issue. Cities often have to declare 'spare the air' days when weather patterns trap the pollution close to the city such that the danger is increased for vulnerable people.
5) The cost of pollution on property. Ever walk through a tunnel and see that black grime covering the walls? That's from cars & trucks (largely from diesel vehicles).
6) The cost of climate change. The effect of climate change is real. It is clear from the ice record that the amount of carbon in the atmosphere has greatly increased since the industrial age has begun. And the costs from climate change are very long term and very difficult to calculate. There are things like increased storm damage, droughts, increased disease as tropical diseases spread northward, etc. And I'll admit, there are even some advantages that might need to be taken into account . . . Canada and Russia will probably get longer growing seasons in their higher latitude areas. However, it is clear that the damages vastly outweigh the benefits.

Due to all of these costs that are not reflected within the price of fossil fuel energy, the government should tax fossil fuels. Taxing fossil fuels accomplishes two things at once.
1) It creates a source of funds that can be used to pay for at least some of the costs that are not reflected in the price of the fossil fuel. For example, these funds can help pay for the military costs of securing access to fossil fuels and supply lines to get the fossil fuels. These funds can help pay for some of the healthcare problems created by the use of fossil fuels. This funds can also be used to pay for research into alternate energy sources that will not have so many hidden costs.
2) The tax raises the price of the fossil fuel such that demand decreases and alternate energy sources that do not have such hidden costs are more economically viable.

Now many Liberatarians would accuse me of meddling in markets with such taxes. However, I feel the opposite is true . . . such taxes would fix broken markets where hidden costs are being foisted upon others instead of being included within the cost of a product/service. For example, innocent victims of ailments directly caused by fossil fuels are subsidizing the low cost of fossil fuels. Tax-payers are subsidizing the energy companies by waging wars for access to fossil fuels and securing the supply lines. These costs should be factored into the price of the fossil fuels.

By incorporating these 'hidden' costs into the price, the true real market is created.

Another way that such market repair can be done is with tariffs. If a country produces very inexpensive products for export to America but part of the way they accomplish such low prices is by slave labor, massive pollution of riviers, child labor, dangerous working conditions that kill workers, massive pollution of the atmostphere, etc. then those products should have tariffs that compensate for such hidden costs.

Huckabee and the meltdown of the GOP

The GOP has largely consisted of an alliance between the Christian-right with their theocratic views and a corporate wing that wants no taxes and no regulations to hamper them. Bush was a strong combination of both and even though he is clearly an incompetent under-achiever, he was a perfect mix of the two main alliances with a big well-known name. Well, his incompetence an ultimately unproductive over-reaching of those policies has created a disaster. A disaster in foreign policy and economics.

With the upcoming elections, the corporate side is pushing Guilliani and Romney as faithful tax-cutters (or deficit creators, as I call them). However, the social views of Guilliani and the Mormon faith of Romney do get the approval of the Christian-right. There was even some talk of a third-party theocrat candidate. But now Huckabee seems to have emerged as the candidate of the Christian-right wing. But the problem is that Huckabee does have some populist economic views that the Corporate side doesn't like.

If Huckabee wins the nomination, a lot of the corporate money could go to support the pragmatic and centrist Hillary Clinton assuming she is the candidate. Well, at least this campaign has started to become interesting.

BTW, I'm going to try to post more from now on. Of course no one is actually reading this but, it is good for me to get it out there and on the record. So when things happen that I predicted, I can go back and point to this blog as proof of my great wisdom. ;-)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Bush and Ahmadinejad are the same just different religion

A recent article hailed Ahmadinejad: rock star in rural Iran, here is a quote:

Ahmadinejad: rock star in rural Iran
By Scott Peterson Fri Dec 7, 3:00 AM ET
Birjand and Bideskan, Iran - Shoes off, and packed so tightly in a mosque that they sweat in the chilly night, several thousand men in eastern Iran await their hero. The air is electric.

When he arrives, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is greeted like a rock star: with a collective inhale the crowd jumps up to catch a glimpse of the firebrand populist. "Sit down! Sit down!" a cleric implores, as laudatory whistling intensifies. "The friend of the Imam [Mahdi] has come!" While Mr. Ahmadinejad is under attack across Iran's political spectrum for his economic policies and unyielding nuclear rhetoric, even his detractors say these frequent visits to Iran's provinces are shrewd politics that give him a serious shot at reelection in 2009.

The president now also gloats – over Iranian rivals who say he brought the country close to war, as much as over American hawks championing attacks – about a new US National Intelligence Estimate that said this week Iran halted a nuclear weapons
program in 2003.

Just like Bush in America, Ahmadinejad is popular with religious folk in rural areas of his country with his belligerent right-wing fundamentalist policies. And Bush, just like Ahmadinejad, is strongly disliked by the more educated secular urban people of his country. They are mirror images of each other . . . the only difference is the brand of religious intolerance they follow. It is so sad to see people driven by superstitious sectarianism. Once again, I am disgusted how it is the 21st century and huge number of people are still obsessed about arguing who has the better God and prophet. Pathetic.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The lame GOP "Well, why don't the Dems totally cut the funding?" response

It has become a common refrain among conservatives to say "Well, if the Democrats really stand behind their convictions then why don't they cut off the war funding all together?" The answer is obvious . . . because they care about the troops and don't want to cut off their supplies. And they do care about having an orderly re-deployment that puts troops in Kurdistan & Kuwait to keep a watchful eye on things.

So many of these lame Democrats need to turn that "if you really stand behind your convictions" logic on the GOP . . . ask "If the GOP thinks this war is so incredibly important, then why don't they initiate a draft, raise taxes to cover the war costs, and send the 500,000 troops needed in Iraq to actually do the job?" This "surge" (what a lie that term is) is a half-assed escalation consisting of a few more troops. All it amounts to is a few more hammers to play "whack-a-mole" with. The moles will simply pop up in different locations. The violence will just move out of Baghdad and plague other areas.

The re-deployment versus surge debate just goes back to John Murtha's original thinking. Murtha tried to get the administration to try to take the war more seriously. However, when it was clear that they were not going to allocate the full amount of resources necessary, he realized that it was better to re-deploy out.

Monday, May 07, 2007

GOP hubris continues

I just read that GOP senators blocked a bid to allow drug importation. Many people want to allow drug importation (or 're-importation' as it is often called because the drugs are often made in the USA and then shipped out of the USA to be sold at lower prices) in order to bring down the prices of perscription drugs in the USA. The GOP has well-known huge ties to the pharmacuetical industry. The GOP passed the 'Guaranteed massive profits to Big Pharma Act' (also known as Medicare Part D - perscription drugs).

The GOP needed some sort of rationalization to protect their obvious pandering to their Big Pharma donors. So they trotted out the usual 'drug safety' excuse. Come on now . . . one of the Bush administrations first moves was to say that we were not getting enough arsenic in our water. They also decided that we were not getting enough lead in our diet. Mercury too . . . they felt little reason to reduce mercury emissions. The whole GOP philosophy is anti-regulation and anti-government inspection.

Yet we are supposed to believe the anti-regulation GOP is doing this for drug safety? Come on!

You'd think that after the massive reality-check they got in 2006, the GOP might actually start acting a little rationally. Nope. I guess another thumpin' is due.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Think outside the box: A psychological/philosophical difference between the left & right.

There are many differences between the right & the left . . . but let me bring up a very high-level psychological/philosophical difference that I have noticed: The left-wing tends to look at all the evidence and consult experts in order to reach a logical conclusion. The right-wing tends to already have their conclusions and looks for evidence and experts to support their pre-existing view.

Granted, this itself is a broad generalization and there are many exceptions on both sides. But let me give a few examples by looking at a few issues.

Global warming/climate change: The left-wing largely believes that there is climate changing occuring and that is due in part by man made greenhouse gases. This view has come into being over many years of scientific research by scientific experts. Although this issue has received a lot of attention in the last few years, the science behind climate change goes back many many years. There has been over 20 years of study of this issue. The right-wing has been dismissive of this issue. They don't want to believe it, so they seek out what ever evidence & experts they can find to dismiss the issue.

So what is behind this? Well . . . it is the grand-daddy of all dogmatic issues: religion. Most religion basically say "Here is the book of what is true. Don't bother trying to examine the world and try to reach logical conclusions, just believe what is in this book and do what it says. And if you want some 'scientific' support, then just seek out the evidence & experts that agree with this book."

So many people on the right have picked a religion and dogmatically stick to it. They do the same with their politics. Fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Mormons all tend to be right-wing. They just believe what they are told and stick to it no matter what. Even Muslims were strong backers of the Republican party back in 2000 before the Bush administration started killing so many Muslims. Religion is the backbone of much of the current conservative movement. Most of the big polarizing issues can be tied to religion. Gay marriage?. . . fundamentalist Jews, Christians, Mormons, and Muslims all hate it due for religious reasons. (Never mind that Jesus said absolutely nothing about homosexuality.) Abortion . . . fundamentalists Christians, Mormons, and Muslims all oppose abortion for religious reasons. (Oh . . . Jesus never said anything about abortion either.) Even the Iraq war . . . if you really probe the views of the minority that still support the Iraq war, you'll see that they still support the war largely due their view of it being a war against Islam . . . a religious war. (Who was that 'prince of peace'?) I know that the Bush administration denies that this is a 'war on Islam' . . . but if you look at the few remaining war supporters, it is clear that the reason they support the war is because they view it as a war on Islamists. Fundamentalists Jews, Christians, and Mormons all support the Iraq war with this rationale. The sad/ironic thing is that this stupid war has strengthened the Islamists. Only after the Iraq war began did the Hamas Islamists win the Palestinian elections, the Muslim brotherhood Islamists gained seats in Egypt, and Ahmedinijad won election.

The powers of denial and rationalization in hardcore conservatives are amazing. Despite the Iraqi Survey Group finding nothing, a very large proportion of conservatives still believe there are unfound WMDs hidden in Iraq or that they were shipped off to Syria. (Never mind that this is completely illogical . . . if they really had WMDs, don't you think they would have used them by now?!?!) With the climate change issue, many conservatives have finally come to agree that climate change is occuring and that it is at least partly man-made . . . they now just think "So what?" So why don't they turn against the people who had been telling them for years that "global warming is a myth"? No respectable conservative will (publically) defend racism these days . . . yet they still support/admire people who defended racism until the bitter end (Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Joseph Smith, Trent Lott, etc.). The cognitive dissonance is amazing. If Ann Coulter was true conservative, she would shut up and get into the kitchen to start cooking for her husband & kids (I know she has neither . . . that is my point.).

An exception to this view are the big biz conservatives . . . they are just happy to go along with all the social conservative crap in order to keep getting their tax cuts & regulation cuts. One big irony is that the hardcore laissez-faire capitalism conservatives have been able to get these fundamentalist religious zealots to go along with their laissez-faire policies. Because when you really thing about it, laissez-faire capitalism is basically an economic version of evolution by natural selection . . . something the religious fundamentalists do not believe in! But even the laissez-faire capitalist conservatives suffer from denial & rationalization. If we continue to follow their policies, America will eventually become bankrupt due to endless budget deficits.

Think outside the box: California should split in two

Occasionally I have ideas that are big & impractical . . . but they should be considered. I am going to label these my 'think outside the box' posts. They are big & difficult but should be considered.

My first will be this: California should split into two. Northern & Southern California often have very different views on issues. And when those differences flare up, the idea of having California split into two states gets mentioned. I think this should happen. It should take place in a time such as now when there is no big issue that is currently in the headlines so it can be done peacefully and calmly. Many people have often said that California is ungovernable. It is just too darn big, has too many constituents, has too much in-fighting, etc. I agree. So let's do it.

But here is my ulterior motive . . . California will then double its Senate contingent. California is a massive state with a huge population and a huge economy. Yet due to historical artifact (or a 'bug' as I call it) in the American constitution, we only get two senators like every other state including such sparesly populated states like Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. Splitting California in two would at least help rectify that massive injustice just a little bit.

So lets split in two now. Let's do it before the next North/South California battle flares up.

Lindsey Graham's amazing "5 rugs for 5 bucks!" gaffe

When on a recent staged photo-op in an Iraqi market with John McCain (who's presidential bid is rapidly collapsing), Lindsey Graham happily said "I got five rugs for five bucks!" That statement is so offensive, that I decided to count up a few of them:
1) The whole point of the photo-op was to show normalcy in Iraq . . . well, people desperately selling their belongings to stay alive is hardly normalcy. Five rugs for five bucks shows just how desperate the poor Iraqi people are.
2) Lindsey Graham's home state has been suffering horrible job losses in the textile industry. Lindsey Graham's joy in buying cheap textiles made by exploited foreign labor is a slap in the face of the people he is supposed to represent.
3) The rugs Lindsey bought were Islamic prayer rugs. The right-wing went ballistic over Nancy Pelosi wearing a scarf during her recent trip to Syria (never mind that Laura Bush and Bush advisor Karen Hughes did the same . . . hypocrisy is the right-wing way), so why are they not upset about Lindsey Graham's purchase of Islamic prayer rugs? Did Lindsey buy one rug for each of the five times he will pray to Allah each day as per Islam.
4) The McCain/Graham market outing was a huge tax-payer funded boondoggle that involved 100+ soldiers, Blackhawk helicopters, Apache gunships, snipers, etc. Five rugs for five bucks? No. Lindsey Graham paid five bucks, but the U.S. tax-payer subsidized his purchase with hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is the standard faux-conservative strategy . . . privatize the profits while socializing the risk.
5) As is typical, any American attention is trouble for an Iraqi person, place, or thing. The next day, that market was attacked by snipers.

Well it is nice to see that McCain & Graham got really pummeled for his cheap stunt. McCain got caught parroting bogus right-wing talking points while on right-wing media. So McCain tried to defend those talking points with this tax-payer funded stunt . . . and all he did was make matters worse. The 'straight-talk' express has been stuck in reverse for a while now.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Neo-cons, you had your chance . . . but this war is over.

Lawrence Lindsey of the Bush administration gave an 'upper bound' estimate of $100 to $200 billion for the Iraq war . . . and he got fired for making such a 'high' estimate. The preferred numbers were $50 to $60 billion. Well, we have spent 10 times that amount and more than twice Lindsey's "upper bound" estimate.

The war has entered its fifth year . . . thus, it has gone on for longer than World War 1 or World War 2. And there is no end in sight. Some say it will take another 10 to 12 years. Rumsfeld doubted the war would take 6 months.

Forget it. You had you chance . . . and you blew it. Your poorly thought out war has been a complete disaster. Your poorly planned war based on nonexistent WMDs that was poorly executed has become a complete quagmire. It is time to leave. We have accomplished all our goals (Regime change & secured the non-existent WMDs). If the Iraqis want a constitutional democracy, they'll have to fight for it themselves . . . we've given them more than plenty of chances to have one.

What is your last excuse for this pathetic war ?. . . "If we leave, then it could become a terrorist haven." Basically, that excuse is "We totally screwed the place up and it may become worse than when we invaded, so let us stay and fix it." Forget it . . . there is little reason to believe that you can fix it and plenty of reasons to believe that you will continue to fail. If we leave and Iraq becomes a terrorist haven then we can always re-invade. We are very good at invading. Leave a ton of troops in Kuwait & Kurdistan for that purpose. But we just cannot hold a country that is filled with people that hate us. So why even try? You naive "welcome us with flowers and sweets" and "they'll build a monument to George Bush" fantasies have failed.

Stop with the lame reasoning. If you want to stay there for oil then say it. We can then have that discussion. But you have run out of reasons to continue this war and you have had more than an ample opportunity to fight the war. Forget it . . . . It is over.

Friday, February 23, 2007

So who wants this surge?

Who is really in favor of this 'surge' (AKA, escalation).

The American people? No. Polls strongly show that the American people are not behind this surge policy.

The Iraqi Study Group? No. The Jim Baker led study group did not propose a surge as being done by the Bush administration.

The Iraqi people? No! A majority of Iraqis think that they would be better off if the American forces left. I don't know their view is wise but that is what they believe.

The generals? No, even Bush himself kept telling us that the generals did not want more troops. But only after some chicken-hawk at a right-wing think-tank pushed for this 'surge' did Bush fire the generals that did not want the surge and put a general that wanted the surge in charge.

The only people that seem to want this surge is Bush & Cheney who just want to salvage their already pathetic reputations and some conservative "think-tanks" that want to accomplish the same thing. We are wasting money and lives for the vanity of ideological zealots that were proven to be completely wrong. What a waste. What a huge waste of blood and money.

The only rationale for invading Iraq that (sort of) remains standing is the "bring democracy to Iraq" rationale. Well, that rationale has now fallen. Democracy is the governance of the people, by the people, for the people. But instead of listening to the desires of the Iraqi people (or the desires of the American people), King George is pushing his Agenda on the people. I guess democracy is officially dead in Iraq. I just hope we can keep democracy alive here in the USA.

Bush, Cheney & the GOP lost a war against a third world country

Someone needs to write a book named "How Bush, Cheney, and the GOP took the world's remaining super-power and lost a war in a third-world nation"

They've blown 1/2 a TRILLION dollars in a war that has now lasted longer than World War 2 and yet more Americans are dying now each month than during the early phases of the war. As the aptly named (and very good) book labels it, this is a "Fiasco".

Let me give an outline on how it happened:
1) This was a virtually unwinnable war to begin with. The Arab world has been seething for the last 40 years with sympathy toward the occupied Palestinian territories. What kind of complete idiots thought that the main ally of the Israeli occupiers would be 'greeted as liberators' when they began occupying another Arab/Muslim nation? Unreal stupidity by Bush, Cheney, and their Neo-con cabal. And then throw in the fact that Iraq was a nation that was intentionally created with severe ethnic and religious fault lines. Ethnic & religious hatred was kept under control by a harsh secular dictator . . . only ignorant people didn't see that these ethnic issues were a huge potential problem. This war was virtually unwinnable from the start but the delusional Bush administration was unable to see this and refused to listen to the many experts that said this was a very bad idea. If this war was winnable, it would require very smart policies and a lot of money & troops . . . . but . . . .
2) The administration mislead (AKA lied) their way into this war. Despite contradictory CIA & FBI reports, the Bush administration would tout aluminum tubes that could "only be used for enriching uranium" and (completely fictional) "meeting between Atta and Iraqi intelligence officials." Although these lies were sufficient to fool the American public who actually believed their government wouldn't lie to them, these lies were never believed by the Iraqi people. As a result, virtually the entire Arab world believes this war is nothing but an oil grab and help for Israel. Whether Americans believe these lies is irrelevant . . . the fact that Arabs don't believe them mean there is strong fuel for a resistance/jihadi movement.
3) Insufficient troops were sent to occupy Iraq. As mentioned many many times, General Shinseki told the Bush administration that some 400,000 troops would be needed to successfully occupy Iraq. For making this assertion, Shinseki was forced into an early retirement.
4) Incredibly bad civil occupation policies fueled resentment by the Iraqi people. Instead of keeping inefficient but functioning state-owned factories running that employed lots of people, the CPA disbanded those factories with some neo-con dream about how new private enterprise factories would just sprout up to take their place. Instead of reforming the Iraqi military and transitioning them into new police, military, or other jobs; the CPA disbanded the Iraqi military and sent them home with their weapons but without a paycheck. Instead of handing over Saddam's palaces to the Iraqi people, the USA took them over as military & diplomatic bases. (Meet the new boss, the same as the old boss.) Instead of hiring lots poor unemployed Iraqis, contractors imported low-wage foreign workers. The CPA's policies ensured that the the occupation would be a disaster . . . and as usual, the leader of this disaster was rewarded with a medal.
5) Incredibly bad military occupation policies fueled resentment by the Iraqi people. Checkpoints with a shoot-first, ask questions later policy has lead to hundreds (or thousands?) of killings of innocent civilians. House to house insurgents disrespected the people and violated cultural policies. Good anti-insurgent techniques were not adopted until very lately.
5) Very stupid interrogation (AKA torture) policies further strengthened insurgents. Even George Bush as admitted that Abu Ghraib was a disaster. But what he has not admitted is that he, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and torture-czar Gonzales are largely responsible for this. Instead of standing strong behind the Geneva conventions and official US policy, the Bush administration changed the definition of torture, they called the Geneva convention "quaint", and they said it didn't apply to many of their detainees. They created a new term of 'unlawful combatant' and tried to stuff these people into a legal black hole in Gitmo. The created a literal Gulag archipelago of secret prisons scattered in Europe, Asia, and the mid-East. And then when the Abu Ghraib scandal exploded, they actually had the chutzpah to blame it on 'a few bad apples'. No, the fish rots from the head . . . those 'few bad apples' were simply following along the guidelines they were given.

Anyone that thinks the GOP is better on defense is delusional. A party that took the only super-power and lost a war in a third world country cannot be viewed as 'good on defense'.