Libertarians vs libertarians on Election Day

There is lots of confusion in the political arena of ideas about who libertarians are, who they vote for, and which party they belong to. There is, of course, a Libertarian Party, but with its electoral prospects dim as they are, most libertarians choose to align themselves instead with the two larger parties. This is my best estimation of where we end up on any given Election Day.

Most libertarians vote Republican (~67% for McCain in 2008), fewer vote for Libertarian, and a handful even vote Democrat (~30% for Obama in 2008). I think with Mitt Romney’s ongoing friendship with the Paul family, socially moderate history, and demographic trends on certain issues, plus a noted (though certainly overblown) Ayn Rand fan, Paul Ryan, on the ticket, libertarians have their best shot in decades of realistically pursuing their goals through the GOP, as I’ve explained before.

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Gary Johnson: Not really a third choice

Many Gary Johnson supporters are behind him because they refuse to sacrifice their principles in order to vote for the other two candidates, with whom they agree less (and often absurdly claim are virtually the same anyway). This is a noble theory, but there’s one major problem with it – reality.

There are only three realistic outlooks for Johnson in this election:

1. He gets fewer votes than he expects, Romney’s margin is larger than expected, so his few votes don’t matter, Romney wins.

2. He gets about the number of votes polls show he might, or a few more, denies Romney enough votes to win a crucial swing state or two, Obama wins.

3. He gets far more votes than anyone expected, even wins a state or two (NM, NV, CO?), denies both Obama and Romney enough electoral votes to win, under the Constitution the election goes to the House, Romney wins.

That’s it. There is no path to an actual victory for Johnson himself. The best he can hope for is to make a stand on issues and change the discussion and terms of the debate, as Perot did in 1992. That hasn’t happened yet, and we have less than 50 days to go. In any scenario, one of the other candidates will win, either despite or because of his presence on the ballot. Johnson’s supporters, while by definition ideologically, not politically focused, should understand that the vote they cast for him does have an effect, though it may not be the one they want. Whether they see a difference between Obama and Romney, there is. And whether they think they aren’t choosing between them, their vote very well may make the difference in what has been so far the closest election in modern history.

Choose wisely Johnson supporters, for whether you want to or not, you may be choosing between the “lesser of two evils” for us.

NOTE: I supported Johnson in the GOP primary, but once he dropped out to run as a Libertarian, he lost me.

9/11/12: "Smart Diplomacy" Circus

On what has become a holy day in the United States of America, this 11th anniversary of 9/11/01 has seen a dizzying array of events in the political sphere that expose latent truths about who our leaders are.

First, the candidates’ tweets were a study in contrasts this morning:

Later in the day, on the other side of the world, a protest broke out in Cairo, Egypt over a film. Radicals (by definition) stormed the US Embassy, spray-painted the walls with grafitti, and ripped down the American flag.

The US Embassy in Cairo immediately issued a press release condemning…wait for it…the filmmakers for the “hurt feelings” their free speech caused. Seriously. That happened:

U.S. Embassy Condemns Religious Incitement
September 11, 2012 

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

Not to be outdone by its own State Department, the White House rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request for a meeting with President Obama while Bibi is in New York at the UN in two weeks. The White House cited an innocent “scheduling conflict” that prevented the two from meeting, and Secretary Clinton will attend instead. But Netanyahu in his request made clear that, despite his short 2.5 day visit to the country, he would be willing to fly down to Washington, DC if it would facilitate the meeting.

And in a final, classy coup de grâce, the Obama campaign violated the political “cease-fire” agreement between the two Presidential campaigns on 9/11 with a Florida rally by impeached former President Clinton on behalf of the Obama campaign.

I don’t know about you, but I think we’ve had just about enough “smart” diplomacy. It’s high time we had some strong diplomacy again.

UPDATE:  Apparently the film protests have spread from Egypt to Libya, where now one American employee of the US Consulate there has been killed by the violent, gun-wielding, arsonist mob. This is an outrage and should be condemned in the strongest terms. But I’m sure the State Department will issue another apology instead.

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One-term proposition: Confirmed.

On February 2, 2009, President Obama told Matt Lauer in an NBC interview that on repairing the economic damage of the Great Recession, “if I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.” We’ve all heard it, we’ve all seen it, and we all know that the expiration date for that statement was seven months ago. So why hasn’t he owned up to this failure? There’s always an excuse.

The current excuse, as the administration has been using or a couple years now, but former President Clinton put so succinctly in his keynote address to the Democratic National Convention this week is, “No president, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage [to the economy] that he found in just four years.” There are two main problems with this excuse.

First, I don’t think the mainstream expectation is that the economy be fully recovered in four years. Everyone knows that the Great Recession was the worst downturn since the Great Depression, and the subsequent recovery would take that much longer. The problem now isn’t that we haven’t recovered fully, it’s that we don’t have a significant recovery at all. Normal post-recession recoveries grow GDP at a rate of 3-4%. For the last two years we have only been growing at an average of 2% per quarter.

Unemployment was also worse than we’ve seen in decades, peaking at 10% in October 2009, four months after the recession officially ended that June. Under normal circumstances it takes anywhere from 12-36 months to return to peak employment levels based on past recessions. Peak employment before the Great Recession was 4.4% unemployment in May 2007. We are now more than five years (63 months) past that point, yet we’re still near double that unemployment rate (8.1% for August 2012). At the current rate of job creation (~100,000/month) it will literally take decades for us to return to the near-full employment we had in 2007. So no, we don’t expect a full recovery in 4 years, but we expect some significant growth and progress toward that goal. The stagnation of the last three years is insufficient, and makes the President’s “proposition” long overdue.

The second reason the Clinton excuse falls flat is the timing of the various economic indicators. The recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. We were already on the way out by the time President Obama took office in January 2009. Unemployment spiked from mid-2008 to the end of 2009, but in terms of job losses, the worst ended just as Obama took office, as Democrats so giddily like to point out in this chart (more accurate version here).

So in terms of both GDP and job losses, we had already hit bottom by the time Obama took office. He took office and proceeded to reassure us over the next year that we would be on the road to recovery soon (the fact that we’ve had two more summers since the first “Summer of Recovery” exposes that lie). The very fact that he said that he would have it fixed in three years after two weeks in office shows he thought he could, and he already had the information necessary to come to that conclusion.

What they’re really saying is that it will take more than 4 years to recover from their errors. The Clinton excuse could be more accurately summed up as, “We didn’t know how terribly we’d do.” Sorry, that’s not how it works, especially when we have no evidence that they’ve learned from the mistakes of the past 4 years and will take a different approach to fix it now. We have elections every 2, 4, and 6 years so that we the people can decide if you get another shot. On November 6, we’ll make that decision for them.

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