THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 437, September 30, 2007
"Separation of Science and State"
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Re: "The Re: Bottom of the Birdcage", by L. Neil Smith
Part of me says we shouldn't advocate limiting people's freedom of speech. The other side of the coin is that everyone pays enough taxes (pun unintentional but I like it anyhow). Why should we pay extra for the goods and services we purchase to subsidize our opponents' point of view? Why should gun shops pay for ads in newspapers and television stations that advocate gun control? Why should adult businesses pay for ads in papers that push for shutting them down? Why should McDonald's pay for ads in a "News Special" that complains McD's is poisoning us with cholesterol? Why should their clients pay more for their products to pay for these ads? I haven't got a frigging clue and yet they do.
The establishment media has not gone out of its way to support other people's free speech and press rights. If my congressman votes for a gun control law the 60 days before an election the NRA cannot tell me about it in a news letter under the Campaign Reform Bill the establishment media helped push. Yet the NRA is supposed to be the rights organization that sold out. As long as the talking heads of the establishment media insist on being undercover Demican flaks the members of the press deserve no more consideration than they give the rest of us.
We have the right to ask the establishment press to be honest. I don't care if they keep the same biases but they can get the facts right though, something that is not guaranteed right now. And advertisers have the right to not pay to put themselves out of business.
It seems to me that implementing the plan proposed in "Bottom of the Birdcage" and "Relining America's Birdcage" is the best way to address these concerns. The problem is that to implement this plan someone will have to invest a lot of time to research who are the right people to write to get the desired results. There is no point in writing the Heinz company to complain about a station's liberal bias, or to/ a station connected with Pat Robertson to condemn anti adult literature bias.
Databases as described in BotB of whom to write are vital to convince the media to be at least factually correct, even if we disagree with the conclusions the media reaches. Maybe many somebodies can combine their effort. That way no one has to give up their day jobs to carry out this research.
Perhaps chapters of the International Bill of Rights Union can do this. That way databases of which advertisers and media venues defend the Bill of Rights in The US can be drawn up and used to defend our rights here in America. Then we'll know who are our corporate allies to export the Bill of Rights. Other groups who support liberty can join the effort, of course.
We want people to reach conclusions based on the facts, and as many of them as possible. Maybe the reporters will take these facts where we don't want them to go. Then we can refute them one way or another. But we have to make sure that the media is presenting the facts. Making sure that advertisers know which papers, magazines, and TV shows tell the truth and therefore protect their sponsors' good name is a step in that direction, a very important step.
A. X. Perez
I'd like to focus on the areas I think are most important.
> I simply acknowledge that creating a free society will involve
Any form of persuading majorities who rule is electoral politics. Ringing doorbells, web essays, letters to old media, and grassroots Ron Paul support are all electoral politics media buys.
Electoral politics legitimizes the institution of majority rule far more than it changes votes and minds. When you praise what Paul is doing you also raise the esteem for a quarter million city councilors. A good showing by Paul could be the stroke of intermittent reinforcement that energizes the majority, and the freedom movement, to engage in another two decades of politics. There's nothing like a miracle to reenergize faith.
I agree that pulling a voting lever is not like pulling a trigger, because voting contains more due process. However, voting is still an initiation of force, with an enormous ratio of collateral damage, and therefore wrong to encourage or support in any way.
1. What's the price to get off this ball of worm excrement?
Which will create more freedom: building an ebay competitor that doesn't prohibit items, or writing letters to old media advertisers? How much time, money, and energy could be applied to 1 and 2 if persuasion of the majority was dropped as evil and ineffective?
> Part of it, I think, is that I've always believed that there's a
The tool is nanotech and its precursors, coordinated and developed over the Internet. The friends of liberty are going to remain outnumbered, because freethinkers being rare is part of the human condition. Freedom begins when freethinkers learn how to defend themselves against an unfavorable ratio of attackers to defenders.
Why does the freedom movement take 2A to mean just guns? There are many kinds of defensive responses other than bullets. For instance, a dog is a better prowler deterrent than a rifle, because prowlers know that homeowners face fewer legal consequences from having a dog attack than attacking in person. What if when your sports car is forfeited, it makes itself hard to tow and hard to drive, while you claim no knowledge and that it must have caught a virus? An article about radio-controlled rats was linked recently on LRC. How many cubic yards of plausibly deniable remote control rats would it take to swarm over any prowlers in your yard?
Runaway technological progress will transfer enough 2A power into individual hands that humans will become hard to oppress in 15 years. I am hoping fine-grained competition from billions of people will make it hard for protection rackets to operate. Imagine when the middle class no longer has to work for a living, and anyone can spend four days a week monitoring the legislature? Self-sufficiency is individual defensive power that is easy to use peacefully.
My good friend Spencer Heath MacCallum does an excellent job in his analysis of Somali culture and recent history.
There was, however, a minor error that should be addressed. It is one of those recent events things which probably makes little difference in the long run.
As Spencer notes, there was a UN-backed government established for all of Somalia in 2000. It was, of course, not really the choice of any of the clans. One of the Somali delegates to the Arta conference in Djibouti where the UN had invited some Somalis to make a show of picking the Transitional National Government said that there were armed guards around the tent where the delegates were held.
In late 2000, Michael van Notten and I traveled together to Djibouti and then to Borama in Awdal. Michael's Somali wife's clan was from the Awdal region. We met this delegate Ahmed Kalinle who told us about his concerns. When it was time to bus all the delegates to Mogadishu to coronate the new government, Ahmed "got on the wrong bus" and walked home. So, he was available to let us know that the delegates had conspired to pick the most corrupt person they knew to lead the government, in his view.
The Transitional National Government or TNG was headed by Abdiqasim Salad Hassan. You can read about him on Wikipedia. I would say he was not only corrupt, but a horrid butcher, in my view, since he was Interior Minister under the government of the Marxist dictator Siad Barre and thus had charge of internal security, including the hated National Security Service (NSS). Abdiqasim was responsible for the massacres of civilians at Hargeisa and Berbera which were funded by International Monetary Fund Loans (and were sufficiently embarrassing that the IMF stopped lending the Barre government money). It is widely believed that in these massacres, some fifty thousand men, women, and children were butchered by Barre NSS troops. Many thousands of others disappeared and were tortured to death. Amnesty International has a detailed report.
The Abdiqasim government was given official UN sanction in August 2000. However, their mandate expired in August of 2003. During this time, his government had gained control of Mogadishu, or parts of it. So, like his predecessor Siad Barre, he was as often referred to as "mayor of Mogadishu" by Somalis as by his more grandiloquent title, "the seventh president of Somalia."
The minor error in Spencer's text gives the impression that the TNG exists today. Spencer writes, "Today a combined "peace-keeping mission" of United States-backed troops from Ethiopia, Somalia's traditional enemy, and Uganda under the aegis of the African Union is in Mogadishu attempting to prop up the TNG and secure its control over the rest of Somalia. Violence soars."
However, that is not the TNG, but the TFGthe Transitional Federal Government. I suspect that the similarity of names is deliberate. Of course, I have other ideas for that acronymTotally F^ck#d-up Government would be my pick.
The TFG was chosen in another country during yet another UN peace conference in 2004. This time, instead of Djibouti, the Somali delegations were lured to Nairobi with promises of free room and board plus other expenses. Part of the UN spending has been enormous sums to export delegations of Somali diplomats in order to essentially bribe them into another experiment in central government.
This TFG has been run since October 2004 by president Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed. The story on this gentleman is quite a bit better. He was a military cadet in 1957, stayed in the military after independence in 1960, fought with distinction in the wars with Ethiopia in 1964 and 1977, and was awarded medals for bravery in each war. He apparently lost his taste for the butchery of Siad Barre in 1978. Abdullahi was prominent in a coup attempt, which failed.
He fled the country and formed a Somali Salvation Democratic Front to attempt to overthrow the central government. The SSDF cooperated with Ethiopia in 1982 in a major offensive into Somalia. However, the Reagan Administration sent military aid to the Somalia government (under no-longer-Marxist Siad Barre). In 1984, the SSDF was persecuted by the central government of Ethiopia. However, in 1988, the SSDF was liberating many parts of the Mudug region in Somalia.
Finally, the dictatorship of Siad Barre was overthrown in early 1991. Abdullahi became president of Puntland. The Puntland region is semi-autonomous, but, unlike the Somaliland Republic, Puntland is not attempting to gain international recognition for its independence. Rather, it seeks status as a state in a federalist system.
Unfortunately, that's where the "nice guy" story ends and the authoritarianism comes to the fore. Abdullahi was president of Puntland until July 2001 when his term expired. Another Somali was elected president of Puntland, but Abdullahi started a military campaign and re-asserted his control over Puntland in 2002. He stayed in power in Puntland until he took the role of president of Somalia in Nairobi in 2004. His militia has been implicated in the killing of a military leader and of a clan elder.
Backed by the USA and Ethiopia, the TFG has taken Mogadishu. It controls a fairly small region shown on this map.
It is unclear whether the current leadership in Puntland is allied with the TFG. Clearly, the present Puntland government is opposed to the Islamic Courts Union which had previously held Mogadishu, and has more recently threatened attacks on some cities in and near Puntland. However, it is absolutely certain that the TFG does not control Somaliland.
The Republic of Somaliland has, apparently, been recognized in at least one recent (June 2007) diplomatic communique by Ethiopia. Though I am no fan of Dahir Riyale Kahin, the Somaliland government has been reasonably peaceful in its administration of the region. Kahin's personal history as NSS station chief in Berbera during the 1988 massacres is rather notorious, and he was named in a document accusing him of a direct role in "extra-judicial killings" in Hargeisa.
My point here is simply that the longevity of the TFG seems very doubtful. The TNG lasted from 2000 until 2004. The TFG has been around since 2004, so it might have another year or so in it. But it clearly does not have any prospect of controlling all of the former territory of the Republic of Somalia, let alone all the territory of ethnic Somali clans in East Africa.
Oh, there may be another minor error. Hargeisa seems to claim two universities and a college. Certainly, there are a great many Somalis who are very eager for learning. Perhaps some of them would one day encounter this discussion and care to comment in these pages.
Has anyone considered setting up a forum where the articles in each issue of TLE could be discussed and debated during the week after its release? I would find that very useful and enjoyable. And, since the world should revolve around my needs and desires...... What? You say it doesn't?
[The are two (count 'em TWO!) email discussion lists that can be used for this purpose. They are both described down near the bottom of the TLE main page. The Yahoo! list has all the problems of most Yahoo! lists, so I'd recommend the other one, myselfEditor]
Into Our Lives It Has Crept
Paranoia, the mental disorder, not the healthy alertness for danger, can be defined as the unreasonable fear that the wrong person is out to get you for the wrong reason.
It happens that the '80's actress Ana Alicia Ortiz is a childhood acquaintance of mine. As you know she came out in the miniseries The Sacketts and the prime time soap opera Falcon Crest. In the former she costarred with Sam Elliot who later worked on the miniseries The Rough Riders for John Milius. This opus was about Theodore Roosevelt (history's funnest tyrant, and excuse me for inventing a new word). TR's son Kermit met TE Lawrence during WWI. Lawrence was instrumental in the rise of the El Saud family and Arabian independence. In Falcon Crest Ana Alicia co-starred with Jane Wyman, Ronald Reagan's first wife. As you know Papa Bush was Reagan's vice president.
This is all a huge coincidence and most of you can top me at name dropping. But to a Michael Moore type paranoid playing five degrees of Kevin Bacon it is absolute proof that I am a conduit passing information about oil prices and production between W and the El Saud.
Keeping us afraid of the wrong enemy plays into our real enemies' hands. Was 9-11 truly a terrorist attack or was it a set up by the Old Cold Warriors to justify a last hurrah and repression of the American Bill of Rights? Was W in on the gag or did he panic and go along with a suppression of rights?
George W. Bush was elected in 2000 on a Libertarian friendlier (not Libertarian) campaign platform than his opponent's. On 9-11 he abandoned any pretense of following rhis platform. So was he in on a set up, biding his time for a n all but guaranteed attack happened, or did he lack the character to stick to his proclaimed ideals?
Our enemies want us to spend time pursuing evidence that Bush was in on a plot to trash the Constitution from the beginning. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. This information will be useful if we ever try or criminally charge him for his post 9-11 actions.
And while we worry about this we get distracted from whether or not the people who are running for (re)election in 2008 have the guts to stick up for what they know to be right or whether they will geek when their crisis hits.
Of course we will try to prevent the election of anyone we see hostile to the Bill of Rights or insincere in their support. But we must be careful not to let unhealthy post 9-11 paranoia block us from seeing a lack of moral courage in candidates for office,. It is often a surrender to cowardice that causes those who hold power to turn to tyranny.
We cannot afford to waste energy pursuing imaginary enemies when there are so many real enemies and dangers with which to deal.