Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Michelle Bachmann on Separation of Church and State

In the Florida Republican debate Michelle Bachmann was asked about her claim that separation of church and state are a myth. This position is popular with conservatives, even Ron Paul, who purports to be a libertarian, has said the same thing.

Bachmann defended her ahistorical views by appealing to the letter that the Danbury Baptists wrote to Thomas Jefferson. She claimed the Baptists were concerned about a "national church" and that was all. This is important for the revisionists because it was Jefferson's reply to the Baptists in which the term "a wall of separation between church and state was coined." The Supreme Court later quoted that phrase to illustrate the system the Founders established, which is why theocrats always point out the term in not in the Constitution. That term is not, the principle it explains, is in the Constitution.

The reality is that the Danbury Baptists never once asked about a national church. What they did was point out that the importance of freedom. They didn't make demands, or ask anything of the President. They merely noted that they supported individual freedom of choice and knew that Jefferson did so as well.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Libertarian Case for Marriage Equality

Robert Levy, president of the Cato Institute, discusses the libertarian case for marriage equality for gay couples. About 11 minutes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Largest Boatlift in History and It Was Here

So many people remember the evacuation at Dunkirk, when hundreds of private boats crossed the English Channel to rescue trapped soldiers, their backs to the sea and the Nazi troops in front of them. The Dunkirk Boatlift rescued over 300,000 soldiers. But on 9/11 500,000 people were evacuated from Manhattan.

There was no government plan to evacuate. In fact, the people trapped on Manhattan were trapped because the authorities had shut down mass transit and closed the bridges. People were stuck and afraid. Many had no idea what was going on. All they knew was there was an attack, the Twin Towers were down and the lower part of the island was covered in dirt and dust from the collapse, the air was difficult to breath. And they wanted to go home.

One Coast Guard official, witnessing the throngs of people who had fled to the water's edge put out a radio message. He simply asked the public, the people the politicians don't trust in these circumstances, to help. He urged anyone with a boat to please come to Manhattan and help these people.

And they did, by the hundreds. Yet, when we watch disasters unfold, inevitably the politicians and bureaucrats rush in and try to order the "civilians" to cease all assistance immediately and "leave it to the experts."

I was in San Francisco the day the earthquake hit in 1989. Throughout that day the "civilians" were putting out fires, directing traffic, and shuttling commuters around the city. In addition, they were the ones rescuing people from the collapsed highway and from buildings that had pancaked. They did so while the "professionals" were standing around debating whether to do anything, and, what.  Here is a short documentary about how civilians shuttled 500,000 people out of Manhattan on 9/11.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

If libertarians are selfish, how do you explain him?

Libertarians are selfish, self-centered, mean people only out for themselves. Well, that’s what I’ve heard. Critics on both the left, and the right have said so. It must be true. But how do they explain John Perry?
John Perry, like President Obama, is the offspring of an interracial marriage. And like Obama he had a strong interest in politics and even went to law school, befriending John F. Kennedy, Jr. there. It hadn’t always been clear that John would go to law school, or any university for that matter. As a child he was believed to have a learning disability. He was nine before he learned to tie his shoes or to read. But he discovered a passion for learning. After studying French he went to learn Spanish, Russian, Portuguese and Swedish.

After law school, John and a friend specialized in helping immigrants find their way through the legal labyrinth constructed by xenophobes to keep them out. John helped many of them file for political asylum. Then John did something odd, he went to the police academy and became a police officer, taking a job investigating police abuses after his graduation. He became active in the New York Civil Liberties Union and a board member. Executive director Barbara Bernstein remembers him as a passionate defender of the rights of others. She said: “At board meetings… he sort of out libertarianed us. If someone thought it wasn’t the right timing or wasn’t winnable, he was an idealist. He made us justify what we were doing.”