Below The Beltway

I believe in the free speech that liberals used to believe in, the economic freedom that conservatives used to believe in, and the personal freedom that America used to believe in.

March 29, 2006

Carnival Of The Vanities # 184

by @ 7:22 am. Filed under General

Welcome to the 184th edition of the Carnival of the Vanities, the grand-daddy of all the blog carnivals. I’d like to thank Zeuswood for the opportunity to host this week; I’ve hosted several carnivals over the eight months or so that I’ve been blogging, but this was certainly the most wide-ranging and intense of all. I enjoyed reading all the posts and finding new blogs to add to my readings. So, without further delay, lets get to the contributions.

We start off in the world of politics where Critical Mastiff says that citizens can do more to contribute to the fight against tyranny than merely waving a flag at a rally.

But private citizens, when acting together, have tremendous power to spread the ideals of liberty on their own, without using tank battalions or national diplomacy. Given that the President unaccountably missed his chance to rally the people, as it were, I would like to submit my own suggestions:

I would suspect that the government would rather citizens remains passive, though. An active citizenry can do dangerous things, like actually questioning their leaders.

Next, Francois Tremblay at The Radical Libertarian demonstrates the problems with the contemporary notions of equality.

Equality is one pet topic of liberals, even though their system is inherently and dramatically unequal, with a ruling class making economic and social decisions for the entire population, usually shielding themselves from the impact of those decisions with their wealth and the cloak of democracy.

More often than not, as Francois points out, this false vision of equality is used as an excuse for limiting freedom. Excellent reading as usual.

Last week, there was much discussion about a UC Berkeley study which claimed that whiny children are more likely to grow up to be conservatives. The Random Yak takes a look at the study and reaches his own conclusions.

Next, Jack Cluth at The People’s Republic of Seabrook tells us about the latest threat to national security — grandmothers who pass out cookies. Fortunately, Homeland Security is all over this one.

Much has been written detailing the effects that socialism has on a society, but nothing says it better than this story about the children of French socialism from Common Folk Using Common Sense.

Last weekend, there were massive protests in many American cities by illegal immigrants conveniently organized in one place for law enforcement. This being America circa 2006, of course, nothing was done. Jon Swift takes a look at these protests and offers his own message to the participants in those protests.

And speaking of protests, Adam Graham at Adam’s Blog writes about recent protests by evangelical Christians in, of all places, San Francisco.

Finally, in our final political contribution of the week, TMH’s Bacon Bits offers the first of what I’m sure will be many looks at the 2006 elections.

From politics, we move on to current events and Shiloh Musing’s take on the Israeli elections, which were held yesterday.

Next, Paul Secunda at Workplace Prof Blog, writes about some truly puzzling results from a recent study about sexual harrassment training programs.

Proving that he’s no coward, Jacob the Syrian Hamster (I like that name) at The Scratching Post (where else ?) takes on the Blogfather himself over the issue of Internet pornography.

Finally, Dodgeblogium offers a look at last week’s rescue of the peace worker’s being held hostage in Iraq.

Now, we turn to economics as Dan Melson at Searchlight Crusade offers another one of his typically informative financial posts, this time on what to do when you find the value of your house dropping.

Next, Wayne Hurlbert at Blog Business World gives some advice about how your business can adapt to, and profit from, globalization.

And continuing in the same vein, David Daniels at Business & Technology Reinvention writes about applying the open source model to all types of business.

And, finally, Brian J asks why the poor always seem to get hurt by the laws that are supposed to help them.

From money, we move on to something a little more sublime, religion, as Francois Trembaly, writing at Goosing the Antithesis, demonstrates the logical flaws inherent in Christians who claim to believe in free will.

Then, Stephen Littau at Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds asks whether a belief in the supernatural can co-exist with reason and liberty.

Writing about culture, Basia Kruszewska at India Ink writes about the India she came to know after staying there only nine months

Next, Miriam at miriam’s ideas wishes that the people who keep visiting her would speak up already. I know how you feel Miriam.

For our sole history-related contribution this week, there is my post about one of America’s more neglected Founding Fathers, John Adams.

Next, Aloysius at Catymology calls for our four-legged friends to stand up for themselves.

For those of you looking for some advice, we’ve got plenty to offer this week.

First, David Porter at Pacesetter Mortgage Blog writes about the recent changes to the credit-scoring system and what it means for you.

Next, from Baboon Pirates we have an interesting post about homophones and the ongoing war against bad grammer.

Next, Paula G. at Coaching4Lesbians suggests we all unplug for awhile, it may actually do some good.

Finally, Free Money Finance interviews financial author David Bach.

Now, I think its about time for a little humor:

First up, Joan Conde at Mamacita writes about a new national holiday that would conveniently coincide with Income Tax Day.

Next, The Limerick Savant writes about Chef’s return on last week’s episode of South Park.

The list of things that can kill us just got longer, as Avant News reports on a dangerous new enemy.

Meanwhile, amanuensis at Catymology offers a cat’s-eye-view of a wedding ceremony that just may become reality someday.

From A Swiftian Rant comes news that the Abdul Rahman case in Afghanistan seems to have had an interesting effect on Pope Benedict XVI.

Next, The Nose On Your Face lists The Top 9 Underreported Findings From The Berkley “Whining” Study.

Finally, Mark Rayner at The Skwib writes about the threat posed by the increasing automation of yet another part of our lives.

Moving away from humor, Josh Cohen at Multiple Mentality writes about the importance of asking questions.

Next, the Mom at writes about the personality emerging in her oldest son.

From there, we move to Ripples where David St. Lawrence writes about his early impressions of his new hometown of Floyd, Virginia

Next, The Cigar Intelligence Agency writes about fast food restaurants and the pet peeves the engender in us all.

Finally, David Scott at Pererro writes about reuniting with an old friend

And thus we come to the end of this week’s Carnival of the Vanities. Its been great hosting this week. The sheer variety of posts was something I appreciated, and I found several blogs I’m sure I’ll be visiting again soon. Next week’s Carnival of the Vanities will be hosted at Iowa Voice. If you’re interested in hosting yourself, you can find out how to do that here.

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December 6, 2005

Carnival Of Liberty XXIII

by @ 6:00 am. Filed under General

Welcome once again to Below The Beltway as I play host to the Carnival of Liberty for the second week in a row. This wasn’t a planned hosting on my part, but Eric asked me to step in and, since I had such a great time hosting last week’s carnival, I jumped at the chance to do it again. Once again, I was rewarded with the opportunity to read many excellent posts by some of my favorite bloggers, as well as a few new ones I will definitely be checking out again in the future.

Although you don’t have to be a member to submit articles, The Carnival of Liberty is largely an outgrowth of the Life, Liberty & Property Community of Bloggers which was created in June and inspired by the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Kelo v. City of New London. Basically, we’re a group of bloggers who believe in the ideas that Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Patrick Henry believed in. If you’re one of those people, and you’re interested in joining us, here’s how you can do it.

Now, let’s get on with Carnival of Liberty XXIII.

First, we start out at Legal Redux, where Chad takes a look at the uprising among Muslims in France and, pointing out the differences between French and American society, uncovers the reason why such events are unlikely to happen here.

Moslems who come to the United States are allowed to follow the tenets of their religion, speak their original language, and practice their cultural traditions. However, they are also invited to participate in the broader American culture. They are encouraged to run for political office, to serve in the police, fire department, or Armed Forces, to enhance their education, and to participate in the work force. French Moslems are afforded no such invitation.

In other words, someone of the Islamic faith who comes here will, as long as we follow the principles laid down by the Founding Fathers, find the same freedom and liberty as the Quakers escaping Anglican England. Given that freedom, it is far less likely that the conditions that provoked the French Intifada will occur here.

Next, The Pubcrawler takes a look at the latest advances in the War on Terror and comes away unimpressed:

If it is going to be such a ‘shock & awe’ operation that people are definitely going to notice then don’t you think any average terrorist would be able to spot it too? For cripes-sake this has got to be one of the stupidest things going. This isn’t making anyone safer, it is merely a show of force to make people think they are safer. Furthermore, what part of picking a building at random, surrounding it with law enforcement officers, and demanding to see people’s IDs is not unconstitutional?

Excellent question, and it makes one wonder what all this increased law enforcement is really all about.

On a related note, we move on to my post about a woman in Denver who decided that her Constitutional rights actually meant something, only to pay the price:

Think about this. This woman was on a commuter bus, which just happens to stop in front of federal office building, and the officers in question thought nothing of stopping the bus and checking the identification of everyone on board in the name of “security.”

As much as I am concerned about the fate of this woman who refused to turn over her ID for no good reason, I am more worried about the countless number of Americans who succumb to such requests on a daily basis and don’t think anything of it.

Next, Coyote Blog explains why the technocrats who built the modern welfare state may come to regret their decision.

Over the past fifty years, a powerful driving force for statism in this country has come from technocrats, mainly on the left, who felt that the country would be better off if a few smart people (ie them) made the important decisions and imposed them on the public at large, who were too dumb to make quality decision for themselves. People aren’t smart enough,they felt, to make medication risk trade-off decision for themselves, so the FDA was created to tell them what procedures and compounds they could and could not have access to. People couldn’t be trusted to teach their kids the right things, so technocrats in the left defended government-run schools and fought school choice at every juncture. People can’t be trusted to save for their own retirement, so the government takes control with Social Security and the left fights giving any control back to individuals. The technocrats told us what safety equipment our car had to have, what gas mileage it should get, when we needed to where a helmet, what foods to eat, when we could smoke, what wages we could and could not accept, what was and was not acceptable speech on public college campuses, etc. etc.

Over at Event Horizon, Micah Glasser takes a look at the future and sees good news as the ideas of the Enlightenment continue to claim victory over barbarism.

Many see the current state of affairs with super empowered individuals, Islamic barbarism, post-modern western decay, the coming terrors of bio and nano weapons with powers that eclipse nuclear weapons, peak oil, and a myriad of other contemporary difficulties, and see the end of the world, or at least civilization, coming.

But this is short sighted for so many reasons. The forces arrayed against civilization are being matched by the forces of civilization. They will invent a super virus but we will invent a cure for all viruses. They will seek to spread lawless barbarism and terror to our civilization and we will bring law and order and justice to their lands of barbarism and thralldom. The powers of Civilization will grow exponentially while the viral memes of barbarism will fade away ?? chocked out by the forces of natural selection.

Speaking of the Enlightenment, Marty Speck at The Speck Blog looks at the differences between Locke and Rousseau and finds the roots of our modern political divisions.

Where did Locke and Rousseau differ enough to produce such violently different outcomes as the Reign of Terror and the Bill of Rights? Are my assumptions of these outcomes correct?

How have these two philosophies played out in the 19th and 20th centuries? Do we still deal with the differences today? and What were their antecedents?

This is the first part of a multi-part look at the two philosophers, and Marty is off to a great start.

Over at The Radical Libertarian, Francois Tremblay argues that freedom cannot prosper as long as religious thought is given a preferential place in the public square.

The special protection of religion hurts everyone. It favours religion and its collectivist consequences, oppresses the victims of religion, warps public discourse, and only creates more inequalities of rights. We should no longer talk about “freedom of religion” but rather the “freedom from religion”.

I don’t necessarily agree with Francois’s view of religion, however, he makes a point that is well worth considering.

At Tom’s Rants, Tom Hanna writes about an urgent call to action being issued in connection with the Bush Administration’s current review of the tax code:

The President??s panel on tax reform failed in its mandate to recommend ??a plan to promote simplicity, fairness, and transparency. Instead, the Panel merely tinkered with the current complex and confusing tax code, making it even more complex.?? Treasury Secretary Snow is to report on tax reform to the President and Americans for Fair Taxation is urging letters be sent to Snow as well as to members of Congress in the next 48 hours.

The Federal Tax Code is one of the biggest assaults of liberty ever conceived. The day it is finally reformed will be a great day for America.

Speaking of assaults of liberty, Kentucky Dan at Committees of Correspondence writes about gerrymandering and the absurd lengths that politicians will go to protect incumbency. As Dan points out, gerrymandering isn’t just a perversion of the political process, it is an assault on individual liberty.

One person, one vote. To me that is vital. Contrary to the wishful thinking of some, the Constitution does not support rights to groups but rights to Individuals! There is a vast difference.

In a post at The Liberty Papers, Eric Cowperthwaite lays out the reasons that libertarians would be wise to follow a “big tent” approach rather than expelling those who don’t adhere to a rigid ideology.

In a day and age where individualism is tossed in favor of collectivism, where inherent rights are infringed upon daily, where economic liberty is set aside in favor of egalitarian mediocrity, those of us who treasure liberty must make common cause with a lot of strange bedfellows. The great and enduring Revolutions of the past, whether we are talking about the American one, the Czech velvet revolution, the Bolshevik revolution, were successful because a variety of groups made common cause with each other. Of course, in some cases, they later betrayed their fellow travellers (Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, anyone?).

I’d also add that there’s a distinctly American reason for following this strategy in that every successful political party in American history has followed, to one degree or another, the strategy of creating coalitions among like-minded groups. Parties that adhered to rigid ideological lines were rarely successful on their own. Libertarians would be wise to learn this lesson.

Writing this time at Eric’s Grumbles, Eric also gives us this piece on the absurdity that is airline security circa 2005:

As far as I can tell, from the outside looking in, the TSA has not done the basics needed for a truly effective security program. Rather than identifying threat and vulnerability pairs, determining risks, and level of risk, they have rushed from one politically visible issue to another. This has led to an amazing expenditure of resources on low impact risks, while ignoring less visible, but far higher risk level, issues. For anyone who travels regularly, this is clearly manifested in the serious lack of respect that the public has for the efforts of the TSA.

Speaking of stupid government tricks, the Federal Communications Commission is threatening to begin regulating cable television content, and imposing itself in between consumers and cable companies as the arbiter of what’s right. The whole said story is cataloged in my post Government Mandated Choice.

The FCC’s regulatory authority over broadcast television and radio has been justified based on the mythical idea that the airwaves are a “public resource” that must be regulated in the public interest. No such justification can be applied to either cable or satellite television, or radio, but yet the FCC appears on the verge of trying to extend its regulatory authority into these areas as well.

All of this is being done in the name of battling so-called indecency, but nobody’s explained to me why you just can’t turn the TV off if you don’t like what’s on.

Turning to matters political, Norm Leahy at One Man’s Trash picks about Larry Sabato’s prescription for Republican success, and points out the real reasons the GOP is in trouble:

The GOP has abandoned its fiscal senses and only grudgingly, and partially, beginning to see the error of its ways. Yes, Bush bears part of the blame — he’s got a veto pen somewhere. He needs to use it. On top of this we have the DeLay trial, the Cunningham resignation (good riddance to a corrupt pol) and any number of other large and small gaffes, blunders, missteps and outright screw-ups. If there is any electoral imperative at work to change course, regain a principled footing and admit failings, it’s on the head of every Republican member of Congress.

The consequences to the GOP for its fiscal irresponsibility will be most likely temporary. The consequences for the rest of us will last far longer.

Over at Expressions of Liberty, Kerwin Brown writes of an activist judge in Indiana and calls for his impeachment.

And judicial activism isn’t just a problem here in the United States, the situation in Canada is even worse as Angry in the Great White North relates in this post about the Chief Justice of the Canadian Supreme Court.

Judges should feel “emboldened” to trump the written word of the Constitution when protecting fundamental, unwritten principles and rights, Canada’s Chief Justice says.

Beverley McLachlin, in a speech delivered in New Zealand, took on critics who say judges have no business going beyond the strict letter of the Constitution to strike down laws and enforce rights.

“The rule of law requires judges to uphold unwritten constitutional norms, even in the face of clearly enacted laws or hostile public opinion,” said a prepared text of the lecture Judge McLachlin gave to law students at Victoria University of Wellington late last week.

Rarely does one see judicial arrogance so openly displayed.

Writing at The Skwib, Mark Rayner uses humor to ask a perfect good question — why is the civilized world letting the Communist Chinese host the Olympics in 2008 when they continue to suppress freedom on a daily basis ?

Next, Perry Eidelbus examines the question — Do government subsidies really help the economy ? Not surprisingly, the answer is an emphatic no.

Yes, there will be a benefit to the local economy when a government helps subsidize an auto plant, but that same money, untaxed and in the hands of private individuals, would have circulated through the economy anyway. It also works in the other direction: if government reduces its spending by $1, that does not mean the economy is reduced by $1.

Perry draws on the writings of Frederic Bastiat, one of my favorite economists, to dismantle the logical upon which the corporate welfare state is built. Too bad our leaders in Washington don’t recognize this.

From Ogre’s Politics & Views comes news that the leaders of North Carolina are very happy right now. Why ?

This year the government took more money then they thought they would get — $71 MILLION more than expected. Don’t hold your breath for the refund — they’ve likely already spent it.

I would say the chances of a refund are somewhere between slim and none. Virginia raised taxed a few years ago based on fears of a deficit that turned out to be non-existent, but believe me they kept the money. Apparently, things aren’t much different in the Tarheel State.

Continuing on the theme of the art of governing, Matt Johnston examines the current epidemic of corruption that seems to be making its way through Washington and points out, quite correctly, that its time to stop using the term “special interest” as a pegorative.

A “special interest,” as the pejorative meaning it is commonly given, is any interest opposing your own. Thus if you are a pro-union Democrat, a special interest is any big business group that does not welcome or outright opposes unions, say Wal-Mart. On the other side of the same coin, if you are Wal-Mart, a labor union is a special interest. So who is correct? The answer is neither and both.

In modern day America, where the tentacles of Federal power reach into practically all areas of the economy, its is not all surprising that interested parties have risen up to take care that their voices are heard before their fate is decided.

And, finally, over at New World Man, Matt Barr takes a looks at the latest “right to die” initiative coming out of Oregon and argues that it shouldn’t be easy to commit suicide.

No state may deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law. It’s right there in the Constitution where some people believe the “right to die” ought to be. Naturally, I can “deprive” myself of my property all I want. I can even commit myself to a psychiatric hospital, or turn myself in to the appropriate authorities when the jig is up, thereby depriving myself of liberty.

It doesn’t follow though that I can choose to end my own life on the same basis, for two reasons. First, plain-vanilla suicide is against secular and canonical law almost anywhere you look, and no one’s complained about it before now. Second, the constitutional checks on taking the life of a criminal defendant — like Andrea Yates and Timothy McVeigh — are far greater than the ones on taking his or her liberty. It only stands to reason the standards for taking one’s own life would be more rigorous than forfeiting one’s own liberty.

And so we close the curtain on another Carnival of Liberty. I’d like to thank all of the contributors for yet another round of great posts. Carnival of Liberty XXIV will be posted on December 13, 2005 and will be hosted at Eric’s Grumbles Before The Grave. Be sure to check it out.

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