Sunday, February 27, 2011

Do the motives really matter?

The civil rights battle of today, in the United States, bar none, is that of equality of rights for gay and lesbian citizens. It is absolutely impossible for the issue to be avoided as two cultures and concepts about rights clash with one another. In one corner you have the classical liberal/libertarian concept of limited government and individual rights and in the other corner you have a conservative/authoritarian view that individual rights must be sacrificed to some perceived collective good and tradition.

In the conservative/authoritarian corner are a huge number of fundamentalists who seem quite literally obsessed with hatred for gay people. One need only read the material that these people put out to see precisely how viciously cruel and hateful these people are. The lies they resort to, in order to demonize gay people in general, are often so extreme that they betray the bigotry behind those campaigns. These are people who want to deny gay people equality of rights precisely because they wish to inflict pain and suffering upon a class of people that they hate.

Friday, February 25, 2011

What's Wrong With this Picture?

Watch this video and ask yourself what is wrong with this picture? How does this differ from any of the other TSA molestations that take place routinely in airport after airport around the country?

I'll give you a clue. It isn't an airport.

Government told us that the 4th amendment didn't apply to searches at airports because airports are different from the rest of the country. So we can suspend constitutional rights because of that difference.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ayn Rand, Bill Buckley and the Culture Wars.

One of the hallmarks of the conservative movement is its hypocrisy: They preach abstinence and have affairs. They run anti-gay campaigns and then get caught in toilets trying to pick up men. But, in conservative circles, they are drooling over the release of the first part of the film version of Atlas Shrugged. Is this hypocrisy or a harbinger of change?

The trailer premiered at the CPAC conference. And conservative web sites have been buzzing with anticipation. What they forget, or ignore, is the utterly contemptible way that the conservatives, especially the pencil-fellator, William F. Buckley, treated Rand. Conservatives despised Rand and she returned the sentiments.

Buckley began the assault on Rand with the publications of a hatchet piece written by Whittaker Chambers in Buckley's National Review. Chambers was one of those Right-wingers who had converted from communism to Christianity and thought this represented a significant evolution. In a sense it is. What communist leaders do to the people as a whole, Catholic priests tend to only do to altar boys.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Samuel is Going Home: Sweet, Sweet Victory

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I have just received news that the Belgian government has capitulated to the mounting, world-wide publicity that they were facing over their two years of stonewalling Laurent Ghilain and Peter Meurrens, regarding their two-year-old son. As recently as Tuesday the Belgian Foreign Ministry said they would appeal a court ruling saying they had to give Samuel a passport.

Samuel is the biological son of Laurent Ghilain conceived with the help of a surrogate. For two years the Belgian government has refused to issue a passport for Samuel saying they have no regulations regarding the practice of surrogacy.

Foreign Minister Steven Vanacker said that the government will grant a passport  for Samuel in accordance with the court ruling on Tuesday. I am unable to see any explanation for why the Minister has changed his mind in such a short time. I truly suspect that it was the efforts of many, many people contacting the Belgian government in protest and spreading the word.

No Libertarians Allowed

Here is the double-talk we get from conservatives. First, this is the new chairman of the American Conservative Union, Al Cardenas. Cardenas first starts out saying that the CPAC conference, sponsored by the ACU will always be inclusive and then starts laying down rules to make sure that isn't true. In the process he also redefines conservatism into something unlike that which Goldwater or Reagan would recognize. He says that conservatives don't discriminate on the basis of orientation, provided gay people don't want the same, equal rights of others.

Cardenas says that conservatives will welcome anyone who supports conservative principles and then he lays out some of those very important principles. First, he doesn't mention limited government. He doesn't talk about free markets, or private property rights. He doesn't talk about lowering taxes. One can be accepted in "conservative" circles today and be bad on all those issues.

Under the new "vetting" process they will decide who can be allowed to attend based on the really important conservative principles. And those are opposition to repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and opposition to equal marriage rights for gay people. Wow! There are very few conservatives left, it would seem.

Not even Barry Goldwater would have qualified since he supported allowing gay people to join the military. Cardenas says that a group that advocates gay marriage, even if its members are straight, will not be allowed to attend. That leaves out the Cato Institute and the Libertarian Party, for instance. Gay people who advocate second class citizenship for gays, however, will be welcomed.

What has the ACU done? They have effectively dismissed the traditional platform of the conservative movement, at least as it was before the rise of the bigoted Religious Right, and replaced those planks with something that is entirely about social issues. The great demarcation for conservatives today is not whether they support free markets, after all, look at how they adored George Bush. The defining principle of modern conservatism is hating gay people.

And this means they reject the majority of Americans. Most Americans have repeatedly said, in polls, that they wanted repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Most Americans has said they would support either marriage equality or civil unions. If one must be against both to be acceptable to conservatives that would leave around 20% of the population. This is what they are stooping to in order to placate the hateful fundamentalist who have the Republican Party by the balls.

Libertarians, exactly why do you think you have anything in common with these people?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The heartbreaking callousness of bureaucracy.

We at the Moorfield Storey Institute have been involved in a situation that just breaks our hearts. The picture you see is Samuel Ghilain, a two year boy who literally has been sentenced to life in a loveless orphanage by callous bureaucrats, even though he has loving parents and a home waiting for him. We are trying to change this situation so Samuel can go home.

This story began when Laurent Ghilain, and his husband, Peter Meurrens decided they wanted a child. The couple, who are legally married, considered adoption but Belgian adoption laws, while saying it was possible, made it difficult. After some thought they decided on surrogacy.

How the Religious Right Blew it with Proposition 8

The Right-wing anti-gay crowd really blew their case with Proposition 8. By this I mean the legal case. If you followed the Prop 8 story you would know that it narrowly passed at the election booth, after the Mormon Church pumped millions of dollars into a campaign based almost entirely on falsehoods and distortions.

Then a unique team of conservative Ted Olson, and leftist David Boies, took the case in the federal courts. Judge Vaughn Walker, appointed by President George H. Bush appointed to the US District Court was asked to rule on the constitutionality of the proposition. Walker was first appointed by Reagan, and is believed to have libertarian sentiments—which conservatives will call socialist no doubt. Walker decided that the Proposition has violated constitutional protections and said it was invalid.

This is where the Religious Right placed a sucker bet, that is, a bet they can't win. They are appealing that decision to the Supreme Court. Why is this a sucker bet? Simple, what ever happens they are screwed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

TV Liberty: One-stop shop for videos on individual rights

TV Liberty is a project of the Moorfield Storey Institute.  We have over 230 different videos ranging from the humorous to the serious, across an array of topics. Adding up to several hundred hours of video, we have a convenient index on each page so that you can see what is available on specific topics. This is a true libertarian collection that includes pro-peace material with items about economic freedom. You will find the reasons that libertarians support marriage equality, drug legalization and deregulation. We don't shy away from defending property rights, sexual rights, and immigration.

If you have spent countless hours searching through various websites to see what videos they have available, stop searching. We accumulate in one spot the best videos from dozens of sources. Typically a search on YouTube brings forth hundreds of hits, most of them NOT what you are looking for. Here we gather just those videos that ought to interest libertarians.

Monday, February 7, 2011

10 Commandments for Libertarians

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It was once said: "I have met the enemy and he is us."

Truer words were never said.

I think the libertarian vision is a noble one. It respects people. It sees each individual as an end in himself, and not the means to the ends of others.

With any such set of ideas there is the message and there is the messenger. And rationally it behooves us to keep the two separate. In reality though people often judge the message by the messenger.

The libertarian movement worldwide has some really decent, hardworking, caring individuals at its helm. It also has some kooks, nuts, weirdoes, cultists and certifiable lunatics out there. In other words it's pretty much like the rest of the world.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Zach Wahls on the Last Word

A few days ago we posted a video of Zach Wahls defending his family, which is under attack by the Republican Party in Iowa, because the parents are both women. Zach gave a coherent response to the incoherent rhetoric that the Republicans throw around. Yesterday, we published a guest essay by Zach. Here is an interview with Zach, his mothers, and his sister.

What I find interesting is that Zach, as a high school student, wrote an essay for the Des Moines Register advocating that the state get out of marriage. Now many libertarians propose this, but seem to think it can mean that the state ends all legal recognitions. That is naive given the complex web of laws that are all tied to the marriage status. But Zach's proposal is one that comes close to the "radical" libertarian position and yet recognizes the legal realities. (More below the video.)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The gay marriage "catastrophe"

Note: This is a guest commentary by Zach Wahls, of Iowa, printed here with Zach's consent. You may remember he spoke out at Republican-sponsored anti-gay hearings to strip gay relationships of any and all legal recognition. Zach was raised by two gay women and spoke of his experience and his family, a family Republicans try to demonize. Zach spoke passionately and clearly about this and that video can be watched here.  Our comments will be below.

A recent study on same-sex marriage confirmed my already strident pro-equality view on the issue.
The nonprofit Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, led by University of Iowa journalism Associate Professor Stephen Berry, found that nearly a year and a half after the unanimous Iowa Supreme Court ruling — surprise! — marriage in Iowa remains strong. In fact, since the Varnum v. Brien decision, divorces have declined to their lowest level since 1968, at 7,286.

I'm just going to take a moment to revel in that.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Are Families Really that Different?

Zach Wahls is a 19-year-old university student in Iowa. Republicans are beginning a campaign to strip gay couples of the right to marry. One reason, sometimes given, is that gay people can't be good parents, at least not as good as heterosexual parents. Zach was raised by a lesbian couple and he addresses that issue.

I knew a young man who worked for one of the political parties in a British Commonwealth country. He worked in parliament with one of the parties there. A debate arose whether to allow gay couples to have civil unions or not. Conservatives opposed the measure, while both modern and classical liberals supported that right. Most of the members of his party supported the move but a couple of conservatives opposed it.