Ron is right!

Ron Paul, on this day that domestic news is dominated by the Democratic House’s surrender of its already scarcely serious efforts to end the occupation of Iraq, reminds me why I will take a libertarian (the genuine article, that is), whether of the right or left, over an authoritarian of any political stripe.

Rep. Paul:

We currently live in the most difficult of times for guarding against an expanding central government with a steady erosion of our freedoms. We are continually being reminded that 9/11 has changed everything.

Unfortunately, the policy that needed most to be changed, that is, our policy of foreign interventionism, has only been expanded. There is no pretense any longer that a policy of humility in foreign affairs, without being the world’s policemen and engaging in nation building, is worthy of consideration.

We now live in a post-9/11 America where our government is going to make us safe no matter what it takes. We are expected to grin and bear it and adjust to every loss of our liberties in the name of patriotism and security.

I can’t endorse everything Rep. Paul says at that link or elsewhere–far from it. I am a left-libertarian, after all, and he is a right-libertarian. But in his clear articulation of liberty and genuine patriotism over statism and imperialism, Ron is right indeed.

He has no more chance at the Republican nomination than the leading libertarian in the Democratic Party has of getting his party’s nomination. (Another reminder, if one were necessary, of why we need institutions that promote multiparty politics, so these relatively lone voices can be amplified in Congress by the votes of those of us outside their safe districts.) For standing up to the authoritarians of his own party, Mr Paul deserves encouragement.

No Senate Intel Committee investigation of warrantless wiretapping

I don’t know which is less shocking in today’s news, that Bonds reportedly used steroids, or that the Party of Power is closing ranks to avoid accountability for their warrantless wiretaps.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the senior Democrat on the committee:

This committee is basically under control of the White House.

Yes, that is how Parties of Power operate.

The partisan components of presidential approval

Highly recommended: Political Arithmetik’s graph and analysis of presidential approval among copartisans, the opposition, and independents. The graph shows low point of overall approval against low point within each partisan component of the electorate.

Just a few observations from my interocular test of the data:

G.W. Bush currently has both the highest approval in the series among partisans and the second lowest among the opposition. (Lowest among opposition was Truman’s amazing 4.5%; Truman, unlike Bush, also fell quite low among copartisans, though not as low as Carter, who holds the copartisan low-approval record by far.)

Opposition approval has little correlation with overall, while approval among independents is almost 1:1 with the overall. The latter, in particular, is perhaps not surprising, given that independents tend to be in the middle, but the near-exact correspondence to overall is striking. There is, however, one data point that is notably off the trend for independents: G.W. Bush. He has a level of approval among independents that is “too low” for his overall approval.

Approval by copartisans is highly correlated, and the slope is quite steep. Naturally, the current president’s defiance of the trend line for independents is a direct result of his also being “too high” among copartisans–in other words, a result of the near imperviousness of Republicans to the contempt with which the rest of their fellow citizens hold their leader.

Just reflecting…

…on a week when I could hardly help thinking that maybe Sam Huntington is right after all. And that, almost by definition, is a pretty bad week.

Update: See the more optimistic assessment propagated by Miguel, with which I tend to agree. Alas, the “reformation” process he refers to is likely to be quite difficult, to say the least.

I also should note that I am about out of that lingonberry spread. It is really good. I need to get some more. And, yes, it is from Denmark.


I highly recommend Jonathan Edelstein’s entry at The Head Heeb about the ideology of Christianism. Jonathan develops the concept by analogy to Islamism, and with specific respect to the recently enacted autonomy constitution for Bougainville within Papua New Guinea. But as he notes:

Christianist political threads cuts across denominations and exists in many parts of the world besides the Pacific: the United States, much of eastern and southern Africa, arguably Ireland and Poland. In the Pacific, however, conditions are nearly ideal for Christian-based politics.

How could a Roberts–Alito court support the Republican agenda?

From an American Political Science Association press release about an article in the November APSR by Keith E. Whittington. The first two sentences say:

Judicial review can revive the stalled legislative agendas of the political majority. This finding challenges the widely held assumption that judicial activism generally contradicts the interest of elected officials.

Continue reading

Alito, malapportionment, Mugabe, and conservatism

Malapportionment—legislative districts having significantly unequal voters-to-representatives ratios–is a good friend to conservatives. A malapportioned legislature favors—and increasingly over time—those legislative districts with smaller and declining populations (usually rural) at the expense of those with larger and increasing populations (mainly urban). While there is never a perfect correlation between the liberalism–conservatism divide and the urban–rural divide, there is a very strong one. Not only in the USA, but virtually everywhere. That is why, for instance, Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, has created a Senate that will be biased towards the countryside (5 elected seats per province, plus traditional chiefs) precisely at a time when his urban support base is collapsing. (The Zimbabwe senate elections are on November 26, and have badly split the opposition.)

Given the inherent conservative bias in malapportioned legislatures, a statement about US Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito’s views that was buried deep in an LA Times story this morning should be viewed with particuar alarm by any democrat (note small ‘d’). The Times story is about the already-(in)famous memo by Samuel Alito from his days in the Reagan administration.

As a college student, Alito said, he developed an interest in constitutional law, “motivated in large part by disagreement with the Warren court decisions, particularly in the areas of criminal procedure, the establishment clause and reapportionment.”

“Reapportionment” here is a reference to Baker v. Carr, the 1962 US Supreme Court decision that said that states and cities could not have significantly malapportioned districts. Continue reading

The indictment is not about the war (and that’s the problem)

As Steven Taylor notes, quoting an important passage from Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald, this indictment is not about the war.

And, that, among other things, is what is wrong with the criminalization of political accountability.

Of course, the entire issue is the war, and the concentration of executive authority that both brought it about and was reinforced by it. But absent a process of political accountability (such as confidence votes, as I argued in the previous post), we get a focus on narrow issues like who said what to a federal grand jury.

Update (Oct. 30): Arms and Influence (and, in particular, this Salon link provided there) offers some hope that the indictment(s)–or, rather, the process that they will set in motion–could yet shed the light that Congress has thus far refused to shed into the cabal that Cheney headed (or heads).