The Culpability of China and President Trump

Culpability of China

There is an interesting phenomenon going on in regards to the culpability of China and the culpability of President Trump in the spread of Coronavirus or Covid-19. The gist of the situation is that both China and President Trump committed largely the same sin but, from a political perspective, it is expedient to blame one side but not the other. Let me explain.

The first cases of Covid-19 started in China. Doctors and scientists in the region quickly realized this was an easily communicable and relatively deadly version of Coronavirus. This made it far more of a public health threat, particularly with the global nature of travel, than any other disease since perhaps the Spanish Flu.

The Chinese government refused to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and even punished doctors who tried to get the word out. This led to the disease having time to spread to a larger group of people before action was taken. This explains the culpability of China in the spread of the disease.

Meanwhile, the quick and easy communication of the disease spread it around the world very quickly. The leaders of certain nations, Japan and South Korea come to mind, immediately accepted the scientific and medical advice they were given and began programs designed to stem the disease in their country.

In the United States, President Trump and many Republicans had the opposite reaction. They decided to make it a political talking point, downplaying the danger and even referring to it as a hoax perpetuated by the other party. They ignored the advice of medical professionals and scientists. This inaction, for several weeks, directly impacted, and continues to effect, how quickly the disease is spreading through the United States.

Now, to the point of my entire blog. It is clear those who rightfully wish to point out the culpability of China choose to completely ignore the fact that President Trump is equally guilty of malfeasance. Of putting his own interests in front of the people he is supposed to leading.

Meanwhile, those who correctly blame President Trump’s inaction for the deaths that are now happening across the United States choose to ignore the culpability of China in the spread of the disease.

I would like to say, hey, idiots, you can’t ignore the stupidity of one party when the person you support did exactly the same thing. That would be naïve of me. People can and are doing just that and not even thinking twice about it, they have a smile on their face while they attack one of the culprits while bending over backward to defend the other. Meanwhile, people are dying.

In my novel, the Gray Horn, I try to illustrate the idea we are often given a false choice. Heads or tails. One party is completely guilty and the other completely innocent. This is a lie. The coin has another side. The culpability of China does not absolve President Trump and vice-versa.

Tom Liberman

The Airline Industry is a Gigantic Government Boondoggle

Airline Industry

The Airline Industry in the United States was largely brought into existence and continues to be propped up by your tax dollars. It now looks like another $54 billion is going to be spent to keep it going. Yikes. Why are we propping up an industry that has largely failed to be profitable since its inception?

To fully understand how much of your tax dollars have gone into the airline industry we have to go back to the beginning. The Contract Air Mail Act of 1925 essentially allowed airlines to exist and they would not have turned a profit if not for government contracts. Since then the airline industry has continued to be largely dependent on the government for survival.

Without government contracts, military and government passengers paid for by you, employees trained at taxpayer expense, military breakthroughs in aviation, funding for research, the Essential Air Service, propping the industry up after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, ongoing payments to maintain staff and service airports, the industry would not exist in its current form.

In addition, the result of all these tax dollars put into the airline industry by the government was the utter destruction of the profitable and highly used passenger rail system that largely no longer exists in the United States but is functioning with great success in almost every other country in the world.

So, now, after all this, we are being asked to once again save the airline industry from bankruptcy. Hey, how about we let the unprofitable airlines fail, allow autonomous cars to transport us relatively short distances on our own schedule, and rebuild the passenger rail system without tax dollars? Those airlines that can run profitably without taxpayer dollars will do so.

Your tax dollars are the only reason many small airports across the country exist. That’s what the Essential Air Service act ensures. The government keeps small airports open even though they have no hope of ever being financially independent.

We never should have used tax payer dollars and government mandates to create the airline industry and now, all these years later, we’re continuing to pay for that mistake. Let’s put a stop to it, now is the opportunity to do so.

The mantra of a Libertarian: Let them fail.

Tom Liberman

The War in Afghanistan is a Libertarian Nightmare

War in Afghanistan

The War in Afghanistan is coming to an end, or is it? This war is a realized nightmare from a Libertarian perspective. We never should have started the War in Afghanistan. We should not still be prosecuting it. President Trump has announced an agreement to withdraw U.S. troops and I applaud the sentiment but the execution is going to lead to horrific consequences for many, particular those opposed to the draconic Taliban rule of Sharia Law.

This nightmare has it roots with President Reagan and the fact he essentially created the Taliban because they fought against Russian occupation. It wends its insidious horrors through the presidencies of all who followed escalating with President Bush’s invasion. U.S. soldiers have been giving life and limb in that country for nearly twenty years and now we are planning a full retreat.

Make no mistake about this so-called agreement with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan. The Trump administration claims details of the treaty must be kept secret from the people of the United States in order to save the lives of U.S. soldiers. This is a lie on its face. You must remember, the people who signed it are the enemy. They know all its contents and we the people of the United States do not. Taliban leadership is fully aware of every crossed t and dotted i in the document.

The agreement asks the Taliban not to support terrorist organizations but how on earth are you going to check for that? What, those rascals blew up a convoy of girls going to school? Well, we didn’t support that, it was rogue elements. So sorry. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Meanwhile, with the agreement supposedly in place, they are attacking Afghani government sites at an increased pace. They’ve temporarily ramped down attacks on U.S. soldiers because they correctly surmise, we just don’t give a poop about Afghani citizens or their government, only about us. Harsh truths.

We are running away and leaving the country in a far more terrible position than we found it. The Taliban are going to take over, women and those who believe in freedom are going to suffer and die. Terrorist and anti-U.S. elements will flock the nation and gain support in their attacks against us.

Is continuing the war in Afghanistan any better? Will losing more lives, alienating people through endless drone attacks that kill more civilians than terrorist, that radicalize far more people than they kill, will that make the situation better? No, no it won’t.

President Trump is correct, it’s time to leave. I wish he’d stop pretending this isn’t a full retreat. I wish he’d stop lying about enforcing the unenforceable. I wish we’d just get out and admit we lost. There will be hell to pay, as the saying goes. It’s a mess and the only solution is as WOPR so eloquently suggested, “Strange game, the only winning move is not to play.”

Tom Liberman

Should Lynching be a Federal Crime

Lynching

Lynching will soon be a federal crime if President Trump signs a bill to that effect. The bill passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming 410-4 vote and passed through the Senate without opposition so it seems unlikely to be vetoed.

To understand my objection to this law I must explain that I think any law must have a well-defined, non-paternalistic, and useful purpose. If a law doesn’t have all these things, it is a danger to freedom.

A law that is not well-defined is, by its very nature, open to abuse. Law enforcement officials are put in the position of enforcing a law based on their judgment. This means that groups of people who are, for whatever reason, perceived as less important will suffer the brunt of enforcement. We need not look any further than poorly written traffic laws which result in a hugely disproportionate number of citations against minorities and poor people.

A paternalistic law is essentially the government telling an individual how to lead their own life because the majority thinks they know better. The War on Drugs is an example of this kind of law. This war has caused far more harm than it has prevented.

In this case the law is useless from a legal perspective. No one has been lynched in the United States since 1955 when Emmett Till was brutally killed. He is the last of the estimated 4,733 people so murdered. If no one has committed this crime in sixty years then what is the point of having a law against it? No lives will be saved and no criminals brought to justice who would have otherwise escaped penalty.

That is not to say the law is without purpose, it is just without useful purpose. The law has political purpose. It gives legislators a way to tell voters they are doing something, they care. It is a backward way of apologizing for allowing all of those lynching to take place at all.

If you want to apologize, and believe me, an apology is owed, then do so. I’m sorry that I am part of a government that allowed nearly five thousand people to be brutally murdered without any attempt to bring the criminals that did so to justice. It is a stain on the honor of my country, my state, and my municipality. It is a sickening example of the irrational hate and to the horror such hate allows people to engage in. The fact it was tolerated is vile and I am ashamed that it happened. This law does not make such an apology. It is almost an affront to a real apology. It is a fake apology designed purely for political gain.

What good will this law do? What criminal will it bring to justice? It is even possible it might be manipulated in the future to further penalize someone the government doesn’t like. Let us not pretend such things do not happen.

If a law does not have a well-defined, non-paternalistic purpose, let us not make the law. Even if the law is against an activity that should clearly never be tolerated, as is the case here. Lynching was and remains disgusting. This law doesn’t do anything to prevent it, it does nothing to bring criminals to justice and that must be the explicit purpose of any law.

If you are looking for a way to improve the plight of minorities in this country I’d suggest a look at traffic violations and the War on Drugs.

Tom Liberman

Article 3 and Killing Socialists

Killing Socialists

There’s been a rather boring story in the news about a moronic state Senator from Montana who thinks Article 3 in the Constitution of the United States expressly allows the government to begin killing socialists. It doesn’t but this misconception gives me a chance to wax poetic about the document in question and what I think is a great deal of misunderstanding about it.

The Founding Fathers who wrote, enacted, and ratified the Constitution of the United States came from a situation in which the state used its legal power to oppress citizens with few restrictions. They saw, first hand, the dangers of giving government tremendous power and wrote the Constitution with this in mind.

The Constitution, largely, is a document that does not grant the government power, but does the opposite, it limits such ability. Article 3, which State Representative Rodney Garcia of Montana poorly understands, is meant to prevent the government from imprisoning and murdering citizens for their political views. It does not enable the government to go about killing socialists, it protects such citizens.

It was written by a group of people who watched their friends, families, and like-minded strangers imprisoned and murdered regularly for expressing political opinions. The article in question allows for the imprisonment only of people who have waged war against the United States or giving aid and comfort to someone who does so. It requires witnesses of an overt act in that regard in order to be enacted.

Essentially, unless you actually raise an army and attempt to wage war against the government you cannot be imprisoned or killed. Waging war against the government obviously does not include attempting to win an election through the democratic processes established elsewhere in the Constitution but this hardly needs be said. What is vitally important to understand is that the purpose of the Constitution is largely to prevent the government from killing socialists, or any other perceived political opponent.

To prevent the government from having more power. To prevent the Executive doing things without the approval of Congress. To prevent Congress from doing things without approval of the Judiciary. That is the purpose of this great document.

Why was it written with such a purpose? For the simple reason I stated above. A government so emboldened will continually add to its enemies, continue to make things illegal and imprison such people, until the entire nation is oppressed under their jackboot.

And why do we want to prevent such an outcome? Because if we allow the government to proceed with the agenda of killing socialist and whomever is next on the list; bloody revolution becomes the only method to change the government.

The method preferred by the Founding Fathers was simply allowing We the People to propose different ideas, including socialism, and use the ballot box as the final arbiter. It seems like a good plan to me.

Tom Liberman

Cheap Razor Blades Saved by the FTC

Cheap Razor Blades

******* UPDATE *****

Edgewell dropped their attempt to purchase Harry’s. Congratulations big government lovers, the FTC has saved us.

**** END ******

The Federal Trade Commission is attempting to save cheap razor blades by preventing Edgewell Personal Care from purchasing Harry’s. Harry’s sells such blades along with other products. The government apparently considers Harry’s an industry disrupter and feels the need to step in and prevent the sale, which the owner of Harry’s deems necessary because the company is not profitable.

Yay, the government has come to save my cheap razor blades. The original low-priced razor companies; Dollar Shave Club and Walker and Company, were already purchased by larger razor manufacturers leaving only Harry’s to compete against the giants.

Let’s examine what’s really happening here. Why is Harry’s not profitable to begin with? Maybe because they sell razors so cheaply? It’s entirely possible Harry’s and the other sellers planned, from the very beginning, to sell out to the big names in industry. The principals knew their companies weren’t going to be profitable but wanted the bonanza at the end of the tunnel. If that is the case, then the FTC is preventing them from achieving this goal. It is undeniably true the owners of Harry’s want to sell and they are being prevented from doing so by the government.

The broader question, from a Libertarian perspective, does preventing the sale of Harry’s leave consumers better off? Does the government have a role to play thanks to the Anti-Trust laws established in the Constitution of the United States?

The answer is not easy to deduce. It is absolutely true that Harry’s is an industry disrupter because they sell cheap razor blades significantly below the price of the established companies. However, if their goal was to sell out in the long run, this action by the FTC actually prevents other start-ups from doing the same thing. If they can’t sell their companies and they know their business model is unsustainable, they will not bother starting up in the first place. If, on the other hand, they could make a profit selling the cheap razor blades, they would stay in business without being absorbed by a larger company.

Now, it is possible they are just poorly run businesses and blades at that price could be sold for a profit but the evidence we’ve seen so far doesn’t indicate as much. Therefore, it seems to me, the government shouldn’t be propping up companies that sell products at prices that are unsustainable simply because such is good for consumers.

This is, in essence, socialism. It’s almost as if the government themselves are selling us cheap razor blades which they purchase with our tax dollars. If I didn’t know better, I’d guess the government will eventually bail out Harry’s so they can keep selling us cheap razor blades, but, nah, that could never happen.

Tom Liberman

The Problem with Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished

The phrase Mission Accomplished is irrevocably tied to President George W. Bush in association with his victory speech in May of 2003 in regards to combat operations in Iraq but I think it can easily be applied to the recent assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. The idea being because the shooting war with Iran didn’t escalate, the worst is over.

I see people of the two main political sides of the fence sighing with relief or declaring mission accomplished. Neither reaction is warranted. I was opposed to the War in Iraq from the beginning. I stand firmly behind the idea the United States would be safer, the world would be better, and our political divide would be less if Saddam Hussein were still alive and in power. I know that I have the benefit of hindsight but I said it then and I’ll repeat it now.

The problem is that this assassination will have consequences down the road. Upon hearing the news, I immediately imagined that Iraq might demand we remove our military presence in their country. My mind does not distinguish between a car bomb blowing up a U.S. dignitary and a missile doing the same to an Iranian. We have just legitimized any such action as being reasonable. Other countries that house U.S. troops are certainly pondering the idea that we might launch assassination from those bases, they might be considering expelling our presence.

Certainly, our reaction to Iran firing missiles at our bases in Iraq, or lack thereof, was partially predicated on the idea that the nations where we have military assets might have refused to allow us to strike back from those location.

Just as after mission accomplished in Iraq, I imagined a prolonged occupation of the country along with geopolitical turmoil, I imagine long term negative consequences to these actions. The faces I see lauding this mission accomplished are familiar to me, they were the same ones cheering before. The voices are the same as before. Perhaps they lack the imagination to understand this was no solution and almost certainly created more problems than it solved. Perhaps they have the ability but enjoy the warm-fuzzy feeling they get by ignoring it as compared to the horrible sinking pit that I feel in my stomach.

Way back in 1953 we overthrew the duly elected government of Iran and installed a brutal dictator in its place. I’m sure people were cheering the wisdom of President Eisenhower then. Today we favor Saudi Arabia and vilify Iran as people cheer on and on, but the long-term reality of those actions has yet to fully play out.

Despite all my imagination I did not envision an Arabic Caliphate in the form of ISIS or the terror it continues to perpetuate. What horrors will this latest action unleash? I don’t know. I am quite certain it isn’t mission accomplished; it never is.

Avoid foreign entanglements.

Tom Liberman

Nicole Franklin Running Over a Mexican Girl

Running over a Mexican girl

Nicole Franklin is accused of running over a Mexican girl who was walking on the sidewalk. Franklin is now being charged with attempted murder. Franklin admitted to doing so because she thought the victim was of Mexican nationality. A number of groups want to charge Franklin with a Hate Crime in addition to attempted murder but Polk County Attorney John Sarcone is resisting such efforts. Good for him I say.

I wrote about my objection to hate crimes not long ago but this gives me an opportunity to reexamine the situation. What Sarcone says is very instructive in this regard. A hate crime charge enhances other charges, such as arson and assault, but doesn’t apply to attempted murder. The gist is the idea we should punish people extra for crimes based on the criminal’s motivation.

Sarcone argues that attempted murder is a heinous crime and the charge stands alone. That enhancing that charge is useless. I agree with Sarcone in regards to attempted murder but I disagree in regards to arson or assault. Both of those crimes also should stand alone. Running over a Mexican girl is plenty of reason to put someone in jail. We don’t need to know what was Franklin’s motivation in order to charge her appropriately. Is running over a Mexican girl more of a crime because Franklin hated Mexicans? I hardly think so. What if Franklin ran her over because she was wearing a dress purchased at Walmart and Franklin was once fired from a Walmart?

This illustrates the problem with the very idea of a hate crime. It gives our government, and their law enforcement arm, a way to punish particular members of our society differently depending on their mindset. Everyone who intentionally drives their vehicle onto a sidewalk and attempts to run over a Mexican girl, or anyone else for that matter, is equally guilty. The police must not be allowed to take our thoughts into account, even if we admit to them.

Is Franklin a vile human being? Certainly. Did she allow political rhetoric to destroy her own life and almost murder an innocent? Yes, and yes again. Are there others out there like Franklin? Absolutely. The question is if we serve society by giving Franklin a bigger penalty because of her hatred of Mexicans. There I must answer a resounding no. We actually harm society.

If authorities can charge Franklin with a more serious crime because she hates a group of people, we are giving the government a power they should not, must not have.

Let’s imagine the government decides it has a vested interest in putting Anarchists in jail. They can now charge someone with a more serious crime, say jaywalking while an Anarchist, than they can any other jaywalker. Anarchist hate laws, Anarchist commit crimes more heinously than others. This allows the government to favor one group over another simply because of their mindset or the organization to which they belong.

This is a road, pardon the pun, that leads to very bad places and I understand such, I hope you do as well. Charge Franklin with attempted murder for running over a Mexican girl, that is what she did, and that is what she should be charged with doing. Nothing more or less.

Tom Liberman

Pete Buttigieg and the Wine Cave Kerfuffle

Wine Cave

There’s an interesting political story making the rounds about a wine cave fund-raiser attended by presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. An opponent of his in the Democratic Primary, Elizabeth Warren, described an event he attended as being held in a wine cave and hosted by a billionaire; these being bad things in Warren’s mind.

It can be argued, and I have, that groups should not be able to contribute to a campaign but we will never be able to stop individuals from giving as much as they desire.

Actor Jane Lynch, a Buttigieg supporter, commented that billionaires have as much right to say who gets to be president as waitresses and plumbers. Lynch received a great deal of criticism for this comment although so has Warren for hers. The wine cave comment is interesting on its face and both sides have legitimate points, that’s what I’d like to discuss.

What Warren says is undeniably true. Wealthy people hold fund-raisers, sometimes in a wine cave and sometimes not, which political candidates attend. The goal being, not surprisingly, raising funds. Warren portrays this as a bad thing, that billionaires have an oversized influence on who wins an election. It is undeniable that billionaires help raise money and contribute huge amounts to campaigns. This being true, it doesn’t make a bit of difference when it comes to casting my ballot. I vote for whom I want to, regardless of how much money they raise or whom a billionaire happens to supports.

However, it is also certain that many potential candidates are eliminated from the election in part because they can’t raise enough funds. I argue the inability to raise funds is more a product of being an uninspiring candidate than anything else but there is truth to the accusation. A candidate who doesn’t attract wealthy backers is in serious jeopardy of being unable to finance a campaign.

Warren is correct that billionaires influence campaigns far more than waitresses or plumbers when it comes to fund-raising. Lynch is right in suggesting that each person can vote a single time and a plumber’s vote counts for exactly the same as a billionaire’s vote.

What’s most important about this issue is that each side is right in their own way. If Warren doesn’t want to attend billionaire, wine cave fundraising events she should not. If Buttigieg and other candidates want to do so, they should. What we as voters must decide is if it bothers us. For some the answer will be yes and for others no.

Wealthy people have always had an outsized influence on political elections and political policy. The biggest problem is not that wealthy people have a say, it’s what those wealthy people are saying. Are they interested in a better United States of America today or do they want a better bottom line at the expense of tomorrow?

Wealthy and charismatic individuals will always have a bigger say in the outcome of elections. You may not like it, but it’s reality.

Tom Liberman

Zoo Regulations and the USDA

Zoo Regulations

Most of you may not realize it but the United States Department of Agriculture is in charge of enforcing zoo regulations and citations on over 10,000 zoos, circuses, breeders, and research facilities. They are now in charge of, for some reason, inspecting and citing for violations of zoo regulations the aforementioned 10,000 locations. Zoos obviously have nothing to do with agriculture and yet, here we are.

The reason I know about this is because, as a Libertarian, I tend to have friends on both ends of the political spectrum and some of them are quite passionate. One of my animal activist friends posted a horrific story about an Animal Park in Virginia. To say what was happening to the animals would shock and dismay any decent human being, no matter their political affiliation, is an understatement.

The article focused on the fact that the USDA gave the park a clean inspection just the day before local authorities accompanied by veterinarians and zoologists found the all too human negligence. The problem, according to the article, is that the USDA used to perform comprehensive inspections and issue citations regularly. This has been curtailed under the Trump Administration and led to the problems.

What the article also mentions, but glosses quickly over, is that the animal park in question was cited frequently by the USDA under previous administrations but it is clear, despite these admonishments, the place was still a disgusting and vile animal torture chamber. Basically, they paid the fine, and went on their merry, torturous way regardless of any zoo regulations.

My home state of Missouri is well-known for our many, and oft poorly run, puppy-mills this despite all the zoo regulations in effect. Not a month goes by without one of my local friends posting an article about some horror or the other perpetrated by the owners of such facilities.

What it took to actually address the issue was local government along with expert and caring individuals like my friend, coming in and performing an inspection. The place is now closed and the proprietors face numerous criminal charges. The federal government just looks to these zoos, circuses, breeders and research labs as revenue generators and zoo regulations are the way to collect.

I’m all for treating animals ethically but I’m certain when we trust the Federal Government to do it, we simply apply a placebo to the problem. The animal horrors continue unabated.

I understand the need for government oversight and without the aid of local law enforcement, people like my friend would be unable to effectively prevent the owners of such establishment from continuing their nefarious activities. It is when the two work together, at as local a level as possible, that real change can be affected.

Let’s imagine local government allows animal loving law enforcement officers to inspect all such facilities with camera wielding animal experts and the videos are posted far and wide? Would we not see far better results than a simple citation from the USDA? Would we also not create an alliance between two groups that normally see each other as the enemy? That’s a win in my book.

When we give power to Federal Government to address a wrong, they generally fail to do much. They simply charge the offenders money and come back the next year, hand out, for more.

Tom Liberman

Meghan McCain and Who is Talking

Meghan McCain

Meghan McCain recently gave an interview lamenting the fact that because she and fellow hosts on The View are women, their conversations and arguments are treated differently than if the same heated discussions were debated by men. McCain is absolutely right but the problem goes far beyond her assertion. Let me explain.

There is no doubt when McCain and Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg or other hosts get into a heated argument it is described as a cat-fight or they are being shrill with one another. There is an inherent sexism in the way she and her co-hosts are viewed. This is an enormous problem in the country and in the world. I don’t want to minimize her point but it’s the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Viewers of the show also dismiss one woman or the other because of their perceived political affiliation.

Many people dismiss gay men who speak in a high-pitched voice. Many people dismiss those who speak with a southern accent. Right here in my beloved home state of Missouri we dismiss people because of they way they pronounce it: Missouree or Missourah. If you say it one way, you’re just some city slicker who doesn’t understand rural issues and if the other then you’re a country bumpkin.

You can repeat a quote and attribute it to one president and get cheers but then explain it was actually a president from a different party and be showered with boos.

I don’t want to single you out but it is abundantly clear actions you consider egregious from a politician affiliated with your party would be excused if that person belonged to the other party. You can pretend the Emperor isn’t naked but the reality is completely the opposite. You know for a fact the horrors you accuse one person of committing, you would absolutely ignore if they were from the other party. Don’t even bother trying to lie to me, go ahead and lie to yourself if it makes you feel better.

There is a huge problem when the most attention is paid to who is saying something and not what is being said. McCain is a woman; this is true but irrelevant. When she gets into a debate with Goldberg or one of her co-hosts; listen to what they are both saying. Evaluate the words and concepts, not the person or the political ideology.

I’m reminded of a quote from a despicable fellow by the name of Martin Shkreli: “Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government,” he said after being grilled by Congress about a massive increase in drug prices. When a fellow is right, he’s right, no matter what I think of him personally.

Tom Liberman

Why did Katie Hill Resign?

Katie Hill

There’s been a fascinating story in the news about United States Representative Katie Hill who resigned from her position after having sexual relations with a campaign aide, having lurid photos of her published in various news outlets, and being accused of having relations with a member of her staff. Why did she resign? Why is this even a story? Who actually cares? These are the things I hope to examine today.

Of all the things that Hill did, or has been accused of doing, the only one that presents a legal problem is engaging in consensual sexual relations with a staffer. In 2018 Congress enacted rules against doing so, this largely in response to the #MeToo movement in which generally women were coerced into sexual relations with their, often male, elected officials or faced retribution for refusing to do so.

The second issue involved the fact that the male aide she had sex with was twenty-two years old. Some people have a problem with that. The final problem is the lurid pictures of Hill that appeared in various outlets, generally from those of an opposing political philosophy. Some think Hill showed bad judgement in taking the pictures.

As a Libertarian I don’t have a problem with anything Hill did and I have a problem with anyone who does, although that is certainly their right. If Hill wants to have sexual relations with a staffer then she should do so, as should anyone who works with anyone else. I understand that someone in a supervisory position can coerce an underling with various threats and I understand why members of Congress passed such rules. That being said, I think consenting adults should have as much sex in as many positions as possible. It’s no one else’s business.

If someone behaves in an illegal way; firing the underling for cutting off the relationship, blackmailing someone into having sex, that should be pursued with due diligence. The problem isn’t people having consensual sex, it’s that the legal establishment has long ignored those who were coerced or lost their jobs because they refused such advances. The rules preventing such behavior are clearly being selectively applied, every member of Congress, male and female, is aware of other members having consensual relationships with staffers and does nothing because everyone is happy as rabbits, as well they should be.

As for Hill having sex with a man ten years her junior. Good for both of them! I wrote an article about a woman having sex with an eighteen-year-old friend of her daughter some years back and my opinion has not changed. We have decided, for whatever reason, eighteen is the age of consent. Perhaps we find a fifty-year-old man dating an eighteen-year-old woman distasteful but that’s their business, not mine, and not yours.

Finally, as to the naked photos, I have a very strong opinion on that. If Hill or anyone else wants to take lurid pictures of themselves that is their business. The despicable people in this are those who chose to publish the pictures without Hill’s consent. Their behavior is both criminal and immoral from where I’m sitting. Posting lurid pictures of another person without getting permission first? Sick, disgusting. Doing so for political gain? I’d honestly like to put a bullet in the head of whoever made that decision but I’ll restrain myself because I know doing so is illegal.

Hill should not have resigned, she did, as far as I’m concerned, nothing wrong.

Tom Liberman

Brexit Vote is the Origin of the Problem

Brexit Vote

The Brexit Vote is the main culprit in the convulsive process that has largely paralyzed the United Kingdom for the last three years. There are a lot of things that can be said about the issue but from this Libertarian’s perspective the entire problem comes down to a single cause. They let people vote.

It’s important to understand that we live in a Representative Democracy and not a Direct Democracy. We elect politicians who decide policy. After a period of time new elections take place and we can replace anyone whose decisions we don’t like. In a Direct Democracy the people vote for policy decisions much in the way they did with the Brexit Vote.

We only need to see the results of that Brexit Vote to understand why having the people make political decisions is a bad idea. Not that leaving the European Union was a bad idea or a good idea, but the politicians weren’t committed one way or the other. The vote lead to exactly where we are today.

Would you have the people vote for any decision in your life? Would you have the people vote for important moments in your life? The answer is obviously no. If we take a poll of people across your region, what restaurant would be deemed the best? I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Cracker Barrel, it’s just not really all that good. If I’m taking a sexy, dark-haired girl with a wicked sense of humor, impressive intellect, disdainful attitude, and a barrel full of crazy to a nice dinner, well, Cracker Barrel isn’t going to be my choice. No offense.

This problem is not only associated with the Brexit Vote but with referendums across the United States and a general lack of will in politicians. It’s the impetus to the War Powers Act which I wrote about not long ago. It’s related to the Emergency Powers Act. Our politicians lack the will to make difficult decisions and therefore they pass the decision on either to the people or to the Executive. Both choices are bad. One gives the important decision-making power to the average person and the other invests one person with far too much power.

We elect people to make decisions; from local School Boards to the United States Congress and all the places in between. Those elected officials need to make decisions and then face the voters later based on their choices.

Anything else leads to a mess. The evidence of the Brexit Vote is clear.

Tom Liberman

Forced Evacuations and Government Responsibility

Forced Evacuations Hurricane

With the tropical storm season underway and our first Forced Evacuations occurring in Florida, I thought it a good time to chime in on the subject. What responsibility does government; local, state, and federal, have in protecting us from dangerous natural disasters? Should they be able to take us from our homes in forced evacuations?

There are arguments to be made on both sides of the issue. The unpredictability of natural disasters like hurricanes and volcanic eruptions often mean that many people were forced to leave their homes when the calamity never arrived. This is essentially government protecting people who do not want or presumably need such shielding.

On the other hand, it is often the case that citizens refuse to evacuate a location and end up in a situation where government agents spend time and effort rescuing such people. This costs money and, of course, there are those who cannot be rescued and die. These people would all have been better off if they complied with the evacuation order. Thus, government officials feel justified in a forced evacuation. If you won’t leave on your own, you’ll leave at the barrel of a gun wielded by your friendly law enforcement officers. If you’re too stupid to save yourself, we’ll do it for you.

It’s obviously not just forced evacuations but all sorts of mandatory actions the government puts on its citizens in the face of potential emergency. Stores are closed, businesses lose revenue, people lose salary, and various other economic consequences occur when the government makes such decisions for us. Yet, the amount of money lost is miniscule compared to the dollars spent if the businesses remained open and occupied and the potential disaster came to fruition.

The answer for this Libertarian is not so simple and certainly painful. In today’s world there is no excuse not to know a dangerous situation is impending. The government has every right to warn citizens and make suggestions about their behavior. If people refuse, they should not expect the government to make any attempt to rescue them. It’s easy to say something like that but what if thousands of people are about to drown? Would I send in a rescue team? Of course, I would. Therein lies the problem.

Were I in charge in such a situation I would simply make that reality plain to all. There is the potential for a disaster. I recommend you leave. If you choose to stay you might not be rescued but I will do my best to rescue you in any case. It will cost money and that will be paid for out of taxes from all the people who did heed the warning, and everyone else in the region.

The other option is to force evacuations when most of the time they are unwarranted. This also costs money. Neither option is perfect, neither is life, or tracking the path of a hurricane.

Tom Liberman

The Resignation of Sir Kim Darroch does No One Any Good

Sir Kim Darroch

Recently some messages from the former British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch, were leaked to the public and the resulting chain of events are an interesting study in diplomacy, secrecy, and foreign relations.

There are a number of problems with the events as they came to pass that may or may not have long term repercussions on the way the world’s powers deal with one another. As an ambassador it is important to report back honest assessments to your superiors. Then they can make informed decisions about the future. If an ambassador reports a rosy picture or a bleak picture that doesn’t match up with their understanding of the situation, bad decisions are the likely result.

Imagine for a moment you are about to make a major purchase. Someone you trust gives you all sorts of information but it turns out much of that is inaccurate. Maybe it was what they thought you wanted to hear, perhaps it was done at the behest of the manufacturer of the item in question, maybe the person so reporting just can’t be counted on to give an accurate assessment. The result is the same in all cases. You make a major purchase lacking truthful knowledge. Maybe it turns out to be a fine purchase but the chances it turns out to be a mistake are much higher.

That’s the problem with what just happened with Darroch. The information he sent back was his honest opinion of the situation but because it was leaked to the public, his position with the mercurial President Trump became untenable. He could no longer do his job satisfactorily.

This leads us to the results of what happened. Will the next ambassador be less likely to paint a negative picture if there is a chance her or his job is on the line? She or he might lose their salary which pays for the food on the table? This is not just about England and the United States but all ambassadors. What if an ambassador for the United States was removed from her or his position in a volatile region and replaced with someone who, out of fear of losing her or his job, reported nothing but good news? I think you can see how this adversely affects our nation.

We live in an age where information like that revealed in the Darroch situation is more and more likely to be released. Such situations are increasingly common which, it seems to me, have a chilling impact on the ability of nations to accurately understand each other and make proper political and strategic decisions.

What’s to be done about it? No easy answers to that one, at least not from me. Once something like that is released, it cannot be easily ignored. Even if Darroch stayed in his position it is likely those who dealt with him on a regular basis would change their behavior to account for his assessments. Certainly, President Trump is a childish and vindictive man but so too are other world leaders.

The idea the world would be a better place if we were all completely open and honest with one another is utter nonsense. Some things need to be left unsaid to the person’s face in order to get along. It is in all our best interest if nations get along well with one another. The world is a better place when men like Darroch are allowed to do their difficult jobs and make their reports in secret.

My final conclusion? It’s a bad situation and I’m sorry it happened.

Tom Liberman

Why it is not a Good Idea to Prosecute Political Foes

Prosecute Political Foes

There is a mood among Democrats to prosecute President Trump after he leaves office for activities which they deem illegal. I want to be clear, it is a terrible idea to prosecute political foes. This very activity brought about the end of the Roman Republic and it’s quite easy to understand why.

Julius Caesar was governor of Cisalpine Gaul (northern Italy), Illyricum (southeastern Europe), and Transalpine Gaul (southern France) for a term of five years. During this time, he engaged in enormous conquest and, almost certainly, illegal behavior. After his term of five years ended, he was ordered to return to Rome, ostensibly to face charges for his crimes while governor.

Without political power, Caesar was largely left with two choices. He could submit to the new government and almost certainly be imprisoned if not executed and have his money taken from him. His other option was to take dictatorial power for himself to avoid these consequences. He chose the latter. It’s difficult to blame him for doing so.

It is almost certain President Trump has committed any number of crimes while in office, he seems to think any law that thwarts his fickle mood of the moment is something to be ignored. Many of his political allies and appointments are equally cavalier with the rule of law. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if documents of his activities were obtained, they would show a penchant for illegal activity. A conviction is all but assured. Many of his allies would also end up in prison and lose their riches.

Naturally, they don’t want this to happen and would resort to whatever means required to prevent it from happening, as did Caesar. Their loyal supporters would likely behave with the same goals in mind.

How do we prevent this? Simply don’t prosecute political foes for their oft-illegal activities after they leave office. Let them go on about their way as much as you hate to see them “getting away” with criminal activity.

It seems to me to be unnecessary to remind supporters of Trump their own culpability in the current Democratic led prosecute political foes fervor but I suspect I must. The entire “Lock Her Up” movement and attempts to criminally prosecute Obama and Clinton allies is part and parcel of the reason Democrats are so riled up. In other words, look in the mirror, bitches.

We have a system in the United States which allows us to rid ourselves of politicians we don’t like. It’s called an election. Let’s focus on that.

Tom Liberman

The President Cannot Legally Implement Tariffs

Tariffs

It is important to understand that the President of the United States absolutely, without question, does not have the power to implement tariffs without approval from Congress. This power is designated specifically to Congress by Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States. Nowhere in the Constitution is the president given any power to do so alone.

I find it amazing that congress has allowed President Trump, the first president to ever unilaterally implement tariffs, to do so. They have largely done so because they either like giving the president such power or they have completely given up on the responsibilities the Constitution grants them.

In either case, President Trump is now implementing new tariffs that business leaders across the United States, like the Chamber of Commerce, and most of Congress itself oppose. They are threatening, finally, to bring the matter to the courts where it seems impossible to me that such actions will be not be struck down as illegal. Why have they waited so long? Why do they still hesitate?

This action by the president, the past actions by the president in regards to tariffs, are clearly illegal. If the president wants to implement tariffs then said president must go to Congress and get them to pass the law through the normal process or get them to grant him the ability to do so.

The precedent set by these illegal tariffs is enormously damaging. One does not have to strain the mind at all to imagine a time when a Democratic President simply bypasses a Republican Congress by acting illegally. I’m certain Republicans would be crying foul at that point but perhaps, just maybe, yesterday is when they should have been squawking.

This willingness to support illegal policies because they come from a party for whom you vote or even because you support the political ideology of the action is baffling to this Libertarian. Cannot you see what is good for the goose is good for the gander? By allowing such illegal acts you set yourself up for future retribution?

If the Constitution of the United States is to be ignored so blatantly in one part, what is to stop a president from ignoring all of it?

Tom Liberman

Deputy Marco Lopez Fired for Running for Office Against his Boss

Marco Lopez Fired

In Osceola County, Florida, a deputy named Marco Lopez decided to run for the position of sheriff against his boss, Sheriff Russ Gibson. He was summarily fired. When I read the headline, I was rather disturbed but then I read the entire story and my agitation reached new levels. You see, what was done is mandated by law.

You read that correctly, it is illegal in Florida to run for sheriff against your current boss while maintaining position as a deputy. The reason being that it is a sign of disloyalty. What Gibson did was not only legal, but actually required by the law, although perhaps he did it several months before he was required to do so. The idea that you cannot run for political office against a superior without being fired because you are disloyal is an affront to my sensibilities.

Of course, you can run against your immediate superior for such a position. Such is done every single day in every other profession across this country of ours and the world in general. Can you imagine telling a young athlete they are not allowed to try for a starting position on the team against the established veteran? Can you imagine being told the state mandates you’re not allowed to apply for the position your boss currently holds without first being fired?

It’s ludicrous. It’s madness. Of course, you can seek a higher position while remaining fully loyal and hardworking at your current job. It goes without saying that you can do your current job with skill and dedication while seeking a better one. We should all do our best at all times, regardless of what future position we might seek.

It is only natural we seek a better job, a promotion. If we did not there would be something wrong. If I were sheriff, I’d be upset if those under me didn’t want to eventually have my job. It would show a lack of initiative and ambition if they did not.

If Lopez defeats Gibson for the job of sheriff it is because he will have run a better campaign and the people think he is better suited for the position. Competition is the backbone of capitalism, even within the government. How many times are elected officials replaced by those who were once or remain their underlings?

Now, to be clear, Florida has every right to pass whatever law they desire. If Lopez was actually disloyal or performing his job badly, then Gibson should fire Lopez. Otherwise, let the voters decide.

Tom Liberman

Loot Boxes to be Outlawed by the Federal Government

Loot Boxes

Once again, an overreaching, big government loving politician is trying to intrude into the lives of citizens, this time by banning so-called loot boxes. The Senator in question happens to be Republican Josh Hawley from my beloved home state of Missouri. I have one thing to say but I can’t say it or the FCC will fine me. Poop on you, Senator Hawley and I’ll be happy to tell you why.

Loot Boxes are in game transactions where game players can purchase various things. Games like Fortnite, Candy Crush, and many others rely on these purchases for revenue. The games are otherwise free to download and play. People make the purchases for a variety of things like cosmetic skins to make their character look cool, extra items to help progress the game, and things of that nature.

Senator Hawley uses the fact that children are part of the market for such games as an excuse to foist his morality upon us. We must save the children he says; ignoring the fact that the majority of people who play the games and spend money on them are over 18. Ignoring the fact that children can’t make such purchases without a credit card on which their parents can easily place limits. No, good old big government Senator Hawley thinks he knows best how we should lead our lives and isn’t at all shy about forcing us to do it by his rules.

If Senator Hawley is successful then games like Fortnite, which have generated an enormous amount of revenue for not only the makers of the game but many ancillary companies and millions of hours of fun for willing gamers, will no longer be free to play. Double poop and a Libertarian pox upon thee!

If someone wants to pump money into a video game then it’s their right to do so. If a kid does so then it’s up to that child’s parents to control their spending. It is absolutely, positively, not the government’s job to protect us from spending money on video games.

You, Senator Hawley and all the rest like you, are not our guardians. You do not get to dictate how we lead our lives or how we spend our money. It’s this paternalistic gobbledygook that created the entire overreaching, nanny state in which we currently reside. There is a law against everything and every citizen is a criminal. The state simply gets to decide who to arrest and when.

If I don’t want to pay a microtransaction on loot boxes then I won’t do so. If I don’t want my non-existent child to do so then I’ll restrict her or his credit card. Get out of my personal life, Senator Hawley.

Tom Liberman

Women with Small Breasts Face Discrimination in Australian Pornography

Small Breasts

There’s an interesting story making the rounds in social media about Australian women with small breasts being banned from appearing in pornographic material which illustrates an important point about how poorly written laws attack freedom. Basically, in an attempt to eliminate child pornography, the government of Australia ruled that women who appear to be under 18 are not allowed to appear in such material. This law has largely affected women with small breasts.

The idea being that if a small breasted woman wants to appear in pornographic material there is a chance a pedophile might fantasize the woman is a young girl. There are any number of problems with this law including the idea that a woman’s breast size is somehow a predictor of her age.

Another question that arises is who makes the decision on what makes a woman appear to be under eighteen? It is clearly an arbitrary choice based not only on breast size but facial appearance and body size as a whole. It would also seem to suggest men in general that women with larger breasts are womanlier. As a fellow who loves sporty ladies, I find this rather offensive but that is beside the point.

The net result is that women with small breasts are being systematically removed from pornographic material in Australia. This is obviously unfair to women with small breasts. They are clearly being discriminated against and their professional lives taken from them by an overbearing government bent on saving us from pedophiles.

This situation is an extremely nice microcosm of the many ridiculous laws foisted off on us by a government claiming they are only doing it to protect us. I’m not opposed to all laws but ludicrous laws, selectively enforced, are a danger to all of our freedoms. Ask a minority driver in the United States who owns an older car how many times she or he has been pulled over for making a wide turn or not signaling within 100 feet of a turn. Then ask a non-minority driver in a new car the same question.

I’ve written any number of articles associated with the miscarriage of not only justice but complete lack of human decency engendered by stupid laws. There is no doubt in my mind this new ruling in Australia will do absolutely nothing to curtail the use of children in pornographic material and will do actual harm to citizens of that country who have nothing to do with such an industry.

Congratulations do-gooders of Australia, you’ve made the situation worse with a stupid law. That’s what bad laws do. Let’s try to avoid them.

Tom Liberman