Fools on the Hill
Richard Wilkins is a Capitol Hill insider and a longtime reader of The Last Ditch. In these writings he hopes to shed some light on the activities of the Fools on the Hill (and other locations where those strange creatures known as politicians operate) that you won't read about in the official media of the Left and the Right.
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December 4, 2007
1. As Strakon recently pointed out in one of his off-site links, the Anti-Defamation League is calling on GOP presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul to disassociate himself from "extremist hate groups." The ADL is right to worry about Congressman Paul, since opposition to imperialism, government welfare programs, crackdowns on civil liberties in the name of domestic wars on terror or (certain) drugs, and support for the gold standard and Austrian School economics, are all policies one naturally associates with national socialists. Therefore, I have taken the liberty of drafting a statement for Dr. Paul disassociating himself from any unsavory associations:
"As a believer in limited, constitutional government and individual liberty, I renounce any and all association with anyone promulgating any form of national socialism or fascism.  Therefore, I will not endorse or encourage my supporters to vote for Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, or Fred Thompson should any of those men defeat me in the GOP presidential primaries. Of course, I will also caution my followers against supporting any of the national socialists running as 'Democrats.'" 
2. Anarchy in the GOP
Strakon may be holding out, but Ron Paul has picked up the support of a number of prominent anarcho-libertarians. Not surprisingly, most of Dr. Paul's anarcho-capitalist support comes from scholars associated with the Mises Institute, on whose board Dr. Paul has served as a distinguished counselor since his former top aide Lew Rockwell founded the institute in 1982. For instance, Mises Institute senior fellow Walter Block is an enthusiastic booster of Dr. Paul. Dr. Paul was also a close friend and associate of the late Murray Rothbard, the founding father of the modern libertarian movement. It was Rothbard who first blended anarchist political theory with Austrian economics, thus creating the school of thought which most free-market anarchists follow (including, I believe, both Strakon and Ronn Neff).
Dr. Paul's most impressive anarchist endorsement came during his wonderful performance on The Tonight Show in October where he discussed Austrian Economics with Jay Leno when he got a shout-out from a noted anarchist almost as cool as the Ditch's beloved editor: Mr. Johnny Rotten! Mr. Rotten acknowledged the good doctor during the reunited Sex Pistols' performance of (what else?) "Anarchy in the UK."
The next night, while appearing on another late-night talk show, the good Mr. Rotten gushed about how wonderful it had been to be on the stage with Ron Paul. Wonder whether the Pistols will be free to play at the inaugural ball ...
2. Quote of the year
"This amendment is important to those of us concerned with the nutritional eating of children."
Queen Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas), speaking on the floor of the House in support of her amendment to increase funding for child-nutrition programs, which apparently provide taxpayer money to cannibals.
For more on Queen Sheila, see my comment on "Enron's queen" from the installment for
August 17, 2007
1. You say you want a (Ron Paul) revolution
The most, actually the only, positive thing about the 2008 presidential race is the candidacy of Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Initially dismissed as an inevitable also-ran who would be lucky to be remembered as the Harold Stassen of 2008, Dr. Paul has proved to be the break-out star of this race by extending his already sizable national following among libertarians, constitutionalists, and "Old Right" conservatives to include antiwar activists, disgruntled Republicans, and rational conservatives seeking to save their party and their movement from the Theocon-Neocon alliance; and including also a legion of young people eager to hear something besides the typical poll-tested drivel. Of course, Dr. Paul has the advantage of being measured against "Rudy McRomney" and "Hillary Obama Edwards Clinton," a group whose utterances are so vapid they make Chance the Gardener sound like John C. Calhoun.
I would guess that most of my fellow Ditch columnists are immune to Ron Paul fever. However, I would expect even such hard-core anarchists as Nicholas Strakon and Ronn Neff to appreciate Dr. Paul's use of the forum granted him by the campaign to inject forbidden ideas into the American political discourse.
While the rest of the GOP field genuflects before graven idols of Ronald Reagan, Ron Paul cites Robert Taft and Ludwig Von Mises as inspirations for his foreign and domestic policies. While the other GOP candidates promote one type or another of tax "reform," Ron Paul proposes eliminating the IRS and replacing it with ... nothing! While the other candidates talk of balancing the budget or restoring fiscal conservatism to the GOP, Ron Paul talks of shutting down
Congressman Paul even favorably cited Lysander Spooner during a Fox News interview in the context of Paul's expressing sympathy for tax protesters. When was the last time a presidential candidate cited Lysander Spooner? For that matter when has a politician ever suggested people look to Spooner for insight?
Of course, Congressman Paul's most notable contribution has been to deliver an antiwar message far more consistent and radical than anything heard among alleged antiwar Democrats. Ron Paul has not just called for withdrawal from Iraq but has even questioned the entire bipartisan consensus that the United States is the "indispensable nation" charged with a sacred mission to bring democracy and (state) capitalism to the unenlightened masses of the world.
The highlight of the campaign came in the second GOP debate in South Carolina when, in response to a blatantly hostile question from the Fox News moderators about the relevance of "isolationism" in a post-9/11 world, Paul broke the rules of post-9/11 politics. Instead of parroting the approved line that the Islamic hordes hate us because of Paris Hilton, Big Macs, and iPhones, Paul explained that they hate us because of the American government's 50 years of ham-handed interference in the Middle East.
That outburst of logic and forbidden truths was too much for Rudy Mussolini, the mayor of 9/11. Mayor 9/11 indignantly demanded that Paul withdraw his comment, smearing the good doctor in the process by claiming that the Texan was "blaming the American people" for the terror attacks. Despite the cheers Mussolini's rebuke drew from the crowd of Bush loyalists, Ron Paul stood his ground and explained that he agreed with the CIA that the Muslim world's hostility to America is a result of "blowback" from U.S. imperial policy.
Shortly after Dr. Paul voted to authorize force after 9/11, Ronn Neff wrote a piece titled "Ron Paul's gift," criticizing Paul for that vote on the grounds that he could have done more for the cause of liberty by voting against the resolution and obliging people to confront the link between peace and freedom. Putting aside the merits of that vote and I believe it was the correct vote in the GOP debate Dr. Paul gave us the gift my TLD colleague was hoping for in 2001, by refusing to back down in his confrontation with Mayor 9/11.
One last point for benefit of the Paul skeptics among TLD readers and writers. In a Ron Paul administration, writing for The Ditch, or reading it, will not result in a one-way ticket to Gitmo. Can we say that about any of the other candidates?
2. The impeachment fraud
Before heading home for the August recess, the House and Senate passed a bill giving Bush new powers to conduct warrantless wiretapping. Although the majority of Democrats opposed it, the opposition of the Democratic leadership was purely for show. If the Democrats were really serious about not allowing Bush this power they could have refused to put the bill on the floor, calling the president's bluff to keep Congress in session until they ratified his latest assault on liberty. But Congress's summer vacation was more important than preserving our liberty although the Democrats were more than happy to delay their summer break to pass bills taking us farther down the road to medical serfdom and expanding federal control over the energy market.
This is the latest example of how even Democrats who claim to oppose Bush's power-grabs act as enablers of the Bush-Cheney national-security state, centering power in the executive to an extent that would have shocked even Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon.
Even when the Democrats appear to be aggressively challenging the administration, they attack the way the administration is using power it has either unilaterally assumed or been granted by Congress; they never attack the existence of the power itself. Thus, instead of repealing or at least modifying the USA PATRIOT Act, the Democrats hold an endless series of hearings centered on Alberto Gonzales. In fact, the Democrats' main objection to Bush's warrantless wiretapping proposal was not that it was another step toward tyranny but instead that Gonzales was too untrustworthy to be granted this power. So if the attorney general were, say, Janet Reno, the Democrats would not have a problem with warrantless wiretaps?
The current movement for impeachment plays right into the Democrat strategy of focusing on the particular crimes of Bush and Cheney instead of the general crime, which is the unitary executive system Bush and Cheney have fortified, building on the work of their predecessors stretching back certainly to Lincoln and arguably to Washington.
The impeachment of Bush and Cheney would not result in the return of one soldier from Iraq, in the extension of habeas corpus to one prisoner, or in the restoration of any of the liberties we have lost these past years. In fact, impeachment could set back the cause by reassuring the large number of people who are starting to realize that the state is not their friend that the system works. Those people would then pat themselves on the back for "saving democracy" from Bush and Cheney while Madame Hillary, Mayor 9/11, Obama Hussein, or that guy from Law-and-Order finished off what is left of republican government in a manner more "efficient" that is, less upsetting to the Dark Suits than the Bush style.
Libertarians should not get suckered into the impeachment movement; instead we should continue to focus on doing what we can to limit state power in all its forms, recognizing that power is a threat no matter who wields it. [*]
Nicholas Strakon comments
Mr. Wilkins's guess is correct as it applies to me: I am indeed immune to Ron Paul fever. I am happy to see the established media reporting some of what he says, and I am even happier to see him make Il Duce Giuliani froth at the mouth; but at the same time I deeply regret Dr. Paul's choice of arena. It is possible that most of us would never have heard of Dr. Paul had he not involved himself in the running of leviathan, but that only deepens, rather than lessens, my regret: my regret at the way things are.
But things are what they are. And the world is what it is. If I may take a page from Bastiat, while we may think we have seen what the cause of Liberty will gain from Dr. Paul's participation in leviathan and its ceremonies, we have not yet seen what it will lose.
I can, however, make an educated guess. To the extent that would-be radicals for Liberty recognize Dr. Paul as one of them, their understanding of what is possible under the state is damaged. Their understanding of the very nature of the state is damaged also. The state is by far the most powerful, most persistent, and most deadly of organized-crime gangs; the state is our greatest enemy. Its nature cannot be reformed.
Its tyranny may ebb and flow; we may breathe a sigh of relief during the ebbing; and we may even occasionally nod "across the gulf of war" at men of the System who seem to have something to do with the ebbing, despite the false lessons they teach the unwary. But that is all.
I note that we have yet to see that ebbing.
In the section of the present installment where Mr. Wilkins discusses the impeachment movement, he writes that "impeachment [of Bush and Cheney] could set back the cause by reassuring the large number of people who are starting to realize that the state is not their friend that the system works." Surely any apparent success on the part of Dr. Paul would have the same effect.
Mr. Wilkins writes further that Dr. Paul "is the only candidate running for the express purpose of not wielding power." Has Dr. Paul imitated Gen. Sherman and explicitly promised, "If elected, I will not serve"? If so, then that is raw meat for
Il Duceet al., and I would expect them to devour it joyfully, destroying Dr. Paul as a "real candidate." If Dr. Paul has not so promised, then Mr. Wilkins himself has highlighted the contradictory nature of the entire enterprise.
If further highlighting is required, we need only consider Dr. Paul's favorable citation of Lysander Spooner, as reported by Mr. Wilkins. This is, I take it, the same Lysander Spooner who wrote "The Constitution of No Authority"?
August 24, 2007Nicholas Strakon is editor-in-chief of The Last Ditch.
Ronn Neff comments
I was delighted to learn that Dr. Ron Paul had quoted Lysander Spooner in public. I missed the occasion, so I don't know what passage he quoted.
Thomas Bayard was a U.S. senator from Delaware from 1869 to 1885. In 1882, a letter he had written came to the attention of Spooner, who wrote to him posing some thoughts on the nature of legislation. In that letter he asked Bayard whether he could "find or devise any such ... law [that is really and truly obligatory upon other persons] in the existing statute books of the United States" or in his own mind. Is it too much to hope that Dr. Paul quoted the final paragraph of that letter?If, finally, you shall find no such law, anywhere, nor be able to conceive of any such law yourself, I take the liberty to suggest that it is your imperative duty to submit the question to your associate legislators; and, if they can give no light on the subject, that you call upon them to burn all existing statute books of the United States, and then to go home and content themselves with the exercise of only such rights an powers as nature has given them in common with the rest of mankind.
August 29, 2007Ronn Neff is senior editor of The Last Ditch.
August 12, 2007
1. It always gets worse
Seven months after the Democrats took control of Congress promising to end the days when Tom Delay ruled the House with an iron hand and abused House rules to guarantee results to his liking, the Democrats have engaged in procedures that would make Delay blush.
For example, on the evening of
In addition, while Delay and his henchman never hesitated to extend voting time until they twisted enough arms to ensure a GOP victory, they never went as far as allowing voting after the vote was officially closed.
One reason Delay never had to resort to that maneuver was that his team was competent enough not to have to engage in the Keystone Cops-like behavior the Democrats exhibited.
Perhaps the Democrats' motto in 2008 should be: All the sleaze of Delay with none of the competence.
See "Just Plan Cheating," by David Freddoso, National Review Online blog,
Before the events described above, the Democrats rammed a major expansion of SCHIP State Children's Health Insurance Program through the House. ("State Children's" the intended meaning is different, but it sounds like a Strakon description, doesn't it?) Implemented in 1997, SCHIP is a federal program, administered by the states, designed to provide health insurance to children. SCHIP was created in order to fulfill Bill Clinton's goal of getting a down payment on socialized medicine and Newt Gingrich's goal of showing that the GOP cared about THE CHILDREN.
The Democrats' new SCHIP bill transforms the program from a small step to a Great Leap Forward toward socialized health care by, among other things, making families with yearly incomes of as much as $80,000 (or more!) eligible to participate in the program and defining a "child" as anyone younger than 25.
The bill was brought to the floor under a rule providing for two hours
of debate and no opportunity for members to offer amendments. GOP
House leader John Boehner protested the Democrats' bringing up a major
expansion of the government's role in health care without a full
opportunity for debate, which is all well and good, except for the fact that I don't remember Boehner protesting in 2003 when the House leadership abused
their power to ram the Medicare prescription-drug bill through
Congress. Maybe what is really bothering Boehner is that the
Democrats made no effort to ensure that even part of the billions to be
spent on SCHIP will find its way into the pockets of the
3. Speaking of SCHIP
One part of the Democrats' new leap toward socialized health care
that might interest TLD readers is that the Dems
are financing their expansion of federal health-care programs by raising
taxes on cigarettes and cigars. According to some estimates, the Democrats'
new taxes may double the price of cigars. Some beleaguered taxpayers
may abandon their once-cherished stogy habit in response, but I
intend to smoke more cigars, and I encourage my readers to do the
same. After all, once this tax becomes law, smoking will be a way to
help THE CHILDREN.
4. Give me wrestling or give me death!
It is good to know that Congress is not letting trivial things such as the war, the administration's continuing assault on our civil liberties and the separation of powers, the continuing bankruptcy of federal "entitlement" programs, and the skyrocketing national debt distract them from the important issues. No, Congress is bravely going ahead with an investigation of ... professional wrestling.
That's right in order to cash in on the cable news attacks on World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) following the Chris Benoit murder-suicide, the House Committee on Government Reform sent a letter to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon requesting "a series of documents intended to give the committee and its investigation a detailed look at WWE's drug-testing policy, including information about the results of performance-enhancing drug tests on pro wrestlers."
Congress may regret getting in the ring with the WWE and Mr. McMahon. For one thing, McMahon has already beaten the government once in 1994, when he was brought to trial on charges of distributing steroids. Before beating the rap, McMahon told U.S. Attorneys offering him a plea bargain to shove it. Furthermore, the millions of voters registered by the WWE's "Smackdown Your Vote" campaign will not take kindly to politicians messing with their beloved wrestling. The American people will put up with taxes, wars, debts, and a police state, but they will rise up to stop the government from interfering with wrestling.
See "Congress seeks WWE Records," by Mike Mooneyham, The Wrestling Gospel According to Mike Mooneyham,
June 24, 2007
1. Quote of the year
Dennis Milligan, new head of the Arkansas GOP, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country.Yup, all we need is some more attacks to remind us how lucky we are to live in an Imperial police state!
See "Arkansas GOP Head: We need more 'attacks on American soil' so people appreciate Bush," The Raw Story, June 3, 2007.
Those of you whose '90s nostalgia is not being quenched by Hillary's campaign will be gratified to learn that pornographer Larry Flynt is once again offering a million dollars for "documented evidence of illicit intimate relations with a congressman, senator, or other prominent officeholder." While it is too much to hope that a legion of Ditch-loving bimbos is descending on Washington in order to destroy the career of some perverted old statist and then give some of Flynt's money to the Ditch (a double victory!), Larry Flynt's latest contribution to openness in government has the potential to cause heartburn for a lot of people in D.C. and a lot of fun for the rest of us.
See "Kiss and tell and cash in," Capitol Hill Blue, June 4, 2007.
Proving that members learned nothing from the '70s, the House on
Most Republicans voted against the bill, and the Decider has issued a veto threat. All well and good, except ... last year, when the Republicans controlled Congress, they passed a similar bill in the House! However, they never intended their bill to become law; instead, they simply hoped that posing as Stalinoid economic ignoramuses would help them maintain power by showing they weren't lackeys of Big Oil. On the other hand, the Democrats really mean it when they talk about creating economic crimes.
4. What does Tom Delay have in common with the Blues Brothers?
They are both on a mission from God:
"God has spoken to me," Delay told The New Yorker. "I listen to God, and what I've heard is that I'm supposed to devote myself to rebuilding the conservative base of the Republican Party, and I think we shouldn't be underestimated."
If God really wants Tom Delay to lead the conservative movement, then He must be a liberal!
The quote occurs in a very interesting piece by Jeffrey Goldberg about the implosion of the GOP. Worth reading if only for the fun of watching Newt Gingrich turn on Rove, DeLay turn on Gingrich, and Dick Armey turn on everybody.
See "Party Unfaithful," The New Yorker, June 4, 2007.
An underreported part of the recent congressional hearings with former Bush Justice Department capo Monica Goodling was Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee's request that Goodling keep her answers "cryptic and brief."
This is just the latest malapropism from Jackson-Lee (D-Tex.), who earned the nickname "the Queen" for screaming at one of her staff members, "I am a queen and I will be treated like a queen!" Other highlights of Jackson-Lee's congressional "service" include suggesting that hurricanes be given more "African American names" and getting herself banned from Continental flights for her numerous temper tantrums even though Continental is the hub airline of Houston, and airlines (like all state-subsidized businesses) usually bend over backward to please Congresscritters.
Even those with low expectations of democracy may wonder how Jackson-Lee managed to get herself elected. Well, therein lies a tale ...
Jackson-Lee was plucked from her obscure place as a Houston City Councilwoman and elevated to her current exalted status by none other than Enron CEO Ken Lay. In 1994, a Houston congressman earned Mr. Lay's eternal hatred by voting against NAFTA. Mr. Lay decided he would use his considerable wealth and influence in the Houston business community to defeat that congressman. However, since the latter represented a "majority-minority" district, created to elect Democrats (oops! I mean, created to elect blacks or other approved minorities), Lay's only hope rested in the primary. Therefore, Lay decided to fund Jackson-Lee's congressional ambitions in the Democratic primary, and he strong-armed the rest of Houston's business community to do likewise. And voila! a congressional star was born!
Despite her buffoonery, Mrs. Jackson-Lee is smart enough to learn the lesson of her predecessor, so she practices just the right combination of racial demagoguery and water-carrying for Houston's corporate elite to ensure that she will hold the seat for life.
April 14, 2007
Much ado about earmarks
A lot of hysteria has been emanating from the official conservative movement and the people Lew Rockwell calls "Beltway Libertarians" over "earmarking," the congressional practice of designating certain funds for projects in a certain member's district. The excessive fondness for earmarks symbolizes the decline and fall of the congressional GOP from the "revolutionaries" of 1994 to the corrupt power-mongers of 2007. However, Last Ditch readers should not be surprised to learn that not only are earmarks not the threat to the republic the D.C. Right claims but getting rid of earmarks may actually reduce liberty.
The press has created the impression that earmarks are responsible for the Bush-Delay-era explosion in government spending, but the fact is that the allocations for various programs and agencies are set by the appropriations committees weeks before the appropriators consider a single earmark request. Since earmarks are funded from a predetermined level of spending, eliminating earmarks would not reduce taxes and spending by one cent. What eliminating earmarks would do is give individual members of Congress less say over how their constituents' tax dollars are spent while giving federal agencies more authority.
While there are cases, such as the Duke Cunningham affair, where members trade earmarks for favors from D.C. lobbyists, most earmark requests originate from local governments, hospitals, schools, and so on. The reason they come to their Congress-critter for earmarks is that a congressman has greater incentive to be responsive to the wishes of locally influential folks regarding how federal money should be spent than unelected bureaucrats have. While this system is far from libertarian we are, after all, talking about divvying up stolen goods earmarks do give some of the victims of theft a greater say in how the loot will be distributed.
So if earmarks do not increase federal spending, why all the hue and cry? I believe there are two related reasons. First, the crusade against earmarks provides a useful diversion for the conservative grassroots, keeping them from attacking fundamental state interests by demanding serious cuts in spending. Diverting the right-wing masses is one of the ways the official conservative and libertarian movements serve, to borrow a phrase from Nicholas Strakon, as the state's "little friend."
Second, while spending federal money on "bridges to nowhere" is not the most evil thing the state does, such projects do make the welfare state look ridiculous, and, like Jack Woltz (the movie producer from "The Godfather"), the state cannot afford to be made to look ridiculous.
One argument advanced by those who criticize earmarks is that while earmarks themselves do not raise spending, the existence of earmarks makes it much less likely that members of Congress will oppose federal spending, for fear of offending the appropriators. That is true, and, in theory, getting rid of earmarks would remove a very crucial piece of leverage that congressional appropriators and the congressional leadership currently have over the rank and file.
However, that does not mean that members would stop seeking federal funds for their district; it just means that instead of going to other members for their pork, they would go to the president or the relevant federal agencies. That would give the president or unelected bureaucrats the ability to threaten members of Congress with the loss of funding for their district unless they voted they way the president and the bureaucrats wished. I think that preventing the accumulation of even more power in the Executive should be a higher priority for friends of freedom than preserving the integrity of the welfare state but then I am not a D.C. conservative or Beltway Libertarian, so what do I know.
March 12, 2007
1. The madness of King George
This quote from neocon economist Irvin Stelzer's description of his lunch with George W. Bush really gives me the creeps:
The president divulged with convincing calm that when it comes to pressure, "I just don't feel any." Why? His constituency, he feels, is the divine presence, to whom he must answer. Don't misunderstand: God didn't tell him to put troops in harm's way in Iraq; his belief only goes so far as to inform him that there is good and evil. It is the president who must figure out how to promote the former and destroy the latter. And he is confident that his policies are doing just that. ("Lunch in the White House with George," London Times,So Bush really believes he is doing God's work? If so, then what would stop him from declaring martial law, disbanding Congress, canceling the 2008 elections, and declaring himself president for life? After all, Bush is not just the "decider," he is the instrument of the Lord Almighty.
2. Coulter and two types of F bombs
The reaction of the Left and some segments of the Right to Ann Coulter's calling John Edwards a "faggot" seems a bit overblown. I appreciate Coulter's attempt to satirize a culture where people actually seek therapy for "homophobia"; however, I object to Coulter's gibe (delivered at the Conservative Political Action Conference) because it was not funny.
The real problem is that her joke about Edwards provoked outrage, and this F (as in fascism) bomb from her 2002 CPAC appearance did not:
When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors.I know that the Left throws the label "fascist" at anyone who dissents from any aspect of the left-wing catechism, but, like the proverbial blind squirrel who stumbles across a nut, they may have actually found a fascist in Coulter. The clear implication of her statement is that dissenters from the Dear Leader's "War on Terror" should be executed. In case you still wonder whether Coulter's jackboots are made for stomping, consider this Coulterism:
I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East, and sending liberals to Guantanamo.
3. Ron Paul for president (?)
Mark Davis at Strike the Root suggests that even anti-political libertarians should be cheering on Ron Paul's
presidential bid. Basically, Davis's argument is that Paul will
1) win the election and succeed in dismantling the welfare-warfare state; 2) win and be defeated by the Red Guard-Dark
Suit coalition that really runs the United State; or 3) be
attacked and/or marginalized by the political establishment
and the media. ("Ron
According to Davis, no matter what happens, anarchists can win. If scenario one occurs and President Paul does slay the statist dragon, then we will all benefit from the increase in peace and freedom. But anarchists can also benefit from scenario two or three, as a Paul loss may finally show limited-government libertarians the futility of attempting to achieve liberty in the political system.
February 23, 2007
1. If you can fake sincerity you've got it made
Last week the fools on the Hill spent four days debating a non-binding resolution expressing non-binding opposition to the Dear Leader's troop "surge" in Iraq. It is standard for party leadership to attempt to carefully control the message of individual members during big debates such as this one, but the GOP leadership took "party discipline" and "talking points" to a new high.
According to a friend on Capitol Hill, Republican leaders decided that Thursday,
I also heard that the GOP refused to give floor time to Republicans who wished to speak against the war. Fortunately, the Democrats granted the renegades from the cult of Bush some time to make their case.
2. I miss Nixon
Overheard at a D.C. cocktail party from a GOP Senate staffer:
"When I told the administration that they could not do what they wanted to do, they said 'we have decided to disregard that part of the law.'"
Now, this had to do with a relatively minor question regarding federal personal practices, but it does raise the question of how many other laws this administration has decided to "disregard." One of the reasons the administration gets away with blatant violations of the law that would make Nixon blush (and maybe even Clinton) is that for six years George W. Bush enjoyed a compliant congressional leadership that was unwilling to conduct serious oversight.
In fact, of all the leadership's sins, the greatest may be the way they turned Congress from an independent branch of government into a wholly owned subsidiary of the White House. Though a congressional leadership is always reluctant to fight a president of the same party, the extent to which the GOP leadership abandoned its constitutional function in order to march lock-step with the White House is almost unprecedented. The only comparable situations occurred in the first years of Franklin Roosevelt's administration, ending abruptly with the court-packing scheme, and in the heyday of LBJ's Great Society. However, even in those cases, the executive branch and the legislative branch still operated as separate institutions. In the first six years of the Bush regime, under the leadership of Karl Rove and Tom Delay, Congress didn't just allow the White House to set its legislative priorities; the House closely coordinated its day-to-day affairs with the White House and with the GOP's largest supporters.
We may hope that the new Democratic leadership will provide some effective oversight and maybe even rein in some of Bush's more egregious actions. However, if the Democrats retain control of Congress and gain the White House in 2008, then we must expect the Democrats to throw oversight out the window and adopt a Democratic version of the Delay-Rove strategy of fusing together the White House, Congress, and powerful corporate interests to create a one-party state.
3. His dream comes true!
Believe it or not, Mark Foley turns out to have been a successful recruiter for the congressional page program. That's right: after Pagegate reminded the American people that pages may be subject to sexual advances from members of Congress, interest in the program increased. Apparently a substantial portion of the public is so enthralled with the idea of providing their children entrée to political power that they are willing to take the chance of making them the sexual prey of some amorous congressman all in order for the kids to have the opportunity to deliver mail on Capitol Hill. (See "Despite Scandal, Page Program More Popular," by Amy Doolittle, The Politico,
When in history has it gotten to this point and not met with an end?
February 7, 2007
1. Meet the new boss ...
In the first month of Democratic control, the new majority rammed through a bunch of bills without giving the Republicans any opportunity to offer amendments. Then last week the House considered a large "continuing resolution" funding the domestic programs for the reminder of the year. This bill came to the floor without any opportunity for individual members to amend it and was written in secret by a few powerful members. Moreover, I've seen media reports that a few Democrats are pressuring industries to drop their GOP lobbyists in favor of Democrats. Abusing the rules of the House, pressuring industries to give lucrative lobbying jobs to their cronies, writing large spending bills in secret why, the Democrats are acting exactly the same way as ... Republicans did when they ran the House!
While adopting the worst characteristics of the Republicans, the Democrats are showing no interest in doing anything serious to rein in Bush's war-mongering (in fact, the Democrats' sizable AIPAC chorus has been trying to out-hawk Bush on Iran) or assaults on civil liberties. Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly took impeachment of Bush off the table no doubt because she does not want to set a precedent that a future Republican Congress may use when President Hillary lies us into war.
I hope those naive voters who voted Democratic last
year in the belief that it would result in real change
soon realize that the two parties are little more than
warring criminal gangs whose only serious disagreement
is over which one should get the lion's share of the
loot they steal from the American people.
2. Bush's balanced budget (and other fairy tales)
Bush's "balanced budget" relies on the usual mix of
smoke and mirrors, including counting the taxes
collected for Social Security, but not immediately
sent out, as an asset. That's even though in 2019 the
government will have to start spending the "Social
Security surplus" on geriatric Baby Boomers. Bush &
Co. are also underestimating the continued costs of
the war and the costs of treating the wounded
veterans from that war, which may exceed
Bush claims he balances his historic increases in
"defense" and "homeland security" spending by
reductions in domestic spending, but his plan does not
call for any reductions until fiscal year 2009. In
other words, Bush's plan to balance the budget relies
on Hillary or John McCain showing more fiscal
discipline than Bush ever has! The president will try
to take credit for "restraining" spending (while the
Democrats will attack him for shredding the safety
net), even though he plans to increase numerous
welfare-state programs, such as No Child Left Behind.
Bush also continues his crusade to turn churches into
adjuncts of the welfare state by continuing to spend
billions on his "Faith Based Initiative."
3. The party of "family values" strikes again
Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) has signed an executive order forcing all sixth-grade girls in Texas to receive Gardasil, Merck & Co.'s new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV. Merck has spent millions lobbying for mandatory Gardasil vaccines, and Perry's former chief of staff is on Merck's payroll, while his current chief of staff's mother-in-law sits on the board of a Merck front group. Mandatory Gardasil vaccines are fiercely opposed by the Religious Right, so one might be surprised to see a social-conservative governor such as Perry support the Gardasil mandate unless one understands who really calls the shots in the GOP. When forced to choose between the Christians who vote for him and the pharmaceutical companies that fund him, the typical GOP politician will toss the Christians to the lions every time.
I guess we can forget about psychiatric incarceration for Bush, too. I wonder, why were the Demos so eager to impeach Nixon? Nixon was a prince compared to LBJ and George W. Bush. Hard to figure.
From Ronn Neff, senior editor of TLD:
I propose a possible answer to Mr. Evans: the Dems had not yet learned how damaging to the impeaching party an impeachment could be.
Tyranny especially in the United State is always a work in progress. New techniques are constantly being discovered, new advantages, new approaches. Outmoded or used techniques are discarded or modified.
After all, what did the resignation of Nixon get the Dems? Very little. First a "nice-guy," national "healer" president (Republican), and then a Democratic president they had to destroy. [See Mr. Neff's exchange of correspondence with Walter Karp and additional analysis of the Jimmy Carter episode in his "'Any day is a good day to fight for liberty.'"]
Nixon's departure left them with their congressional power intact, but it didn't get them the brass ring they'd probably hoped for.
I hope they devour each other!!
Notice to visitors who came straight to this document from off site: You are deep in The Last Ditch. You should check out our home page and table of contents.
1. I am aware that a large number of the Ditch's writers and readers believe that one cannot support both the Constitution and individual liberty, and that limited government is an impossibility. However, Congressman Paul is not an anarchist; he is a constitutionalist libertarian, and the statement was drafted to reflect his beliefs.
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2. This is in no way meant to imply that Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, or Alan Keyes are not national socialists; however, the odds of any of them becoming a serious contender for the nomination is slightly less than the odds of Strakon's becoming Paris Hilton's next boy toy.
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* If anyone thinks that this contradicts today's first item, on Ron Paul, I will only say that Dr. Paul agrees with the sentiment expressed and is the only candidate running for the express purpose of not wielding power.
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