Michael Badnarik for President

In a debate on May 29 at the Libertarian Party’s national convention in Atlanta, the top three candidates for the party’s presidential nomination squared off in front of more than 800 delegates, striving one last time to earn votes before the Sunday election. The contestants — constitutional scholar Michael Badnarik, longtime radio host Gary Nolan and movie producer Aaron Russo — delivered few barbs at each other in the debate, choosing instead to target the Republicans and Democrats. After being beaten in the polls and primaries by the other two leading candidates, apparent underdog Badnarik used the debate to regain the attention of many delegates who had been apt to overlook him, one Russo supporter said later that night, asking not to be identified.

And that delegate was not alone in his new-found regard for Badnarik: Many were surprised by his presence and composure, as well his responses during the debate. A random sampling of delegates following the event indicated that an overwhelming majority considered Badnarik the winner. One delegate noted: “Russo has passion. Nolan is very polished. But I really think Badnarik was the big winner tonight. The man’s intellect is remarkable, and tonight he really rallied. “I don’t think anyone expected the audience reaction to Badnarik’s comments, myself included. If we could have the intellect of Badnarik, the polish of Nolan and the fire of Russo, we’d have the perfect candidate.”

Apparently Michael Badnarik’s performance at the debate was solid enough to make a real impact on the delegates, as he won the Libertarian nomination when Gary Nolan endorsed him after several rounds of voting split three ways. Kudos to CSPAN for staying with the party’s nomination process, even preempting programming when the voting went into extra time.

I’ll be interviewing both Michael Badnarik as well as Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party in the coming weeks. I’ll be supporting Badnarik, but if the Libertarians are too much for you, I’d recommend a close look at Peroutka. Here’s hoping both men can get into the national debates; I have little doubt that Badnarik would easily crush the tongue-tied George Delano as well as the unpredictable junior senator from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, Monsieur Flip-Flop himself.

An interesting point for libertarian-friendly Republicans to keep in mind is that the Libertarian Party has nominated an openly pro-life presidential candidate. After first correctly noting that abortion is properly a state matter, his statement on the issue concludes: Michael used to be “pro-choice” based on the presumption that a woman owns her own body. Neither government agents nor he has any authority to mandate what she does or does not do with her body. More recently Michael came to the logical conclusion that the baby must eventually claim ownership of ITS own body, as well. The abortion debate exists because of a disagreement about precisely when that happens. At this point in time, because there is no scientific consensus, Michael chooses to error in favor of the baby, and now holds that abortion is a violation of the baby’s right to life.

I disagree with Badnarik’s position on homogamy, but this is tempered by my belief that he would have no problem whatsoever with getting the state and federal government out of the marriage business altogether. If the federal government is going to be involved, then there is no intellectually coherent reason to prevent same-sex or plural relationships from being recognized by it. Since marriage is the bedrock of society, this is all the more reason to keep government out of it. I must also note that his position on prisons is a little strange.

Those law-abiding Republicans

Current [Illinois] law requires the Illinois Board of Elections to certify the names that will appear on the general election ballot 67 days before the election. This year that deadline is Aug. 27. But Bush will not be nominated until Sept. 1, when the GOP holds its national convention in New York City. Therefore, his name cannot legally appear on the ballot as a Republican unless the law is changed….

The proper solution, he [the executive director of the IL Libertarian Party] says, is for the board to insist that Bush’s name appear as an independent — as the law allows — or to ease ballot access for all political parties, not just the Republicans. Instead Republicans and Democrats are collaborating to enact a new law that would carve out an exception only for Bush, which is “nothing less than favoritism and a mockery of the principles of democracy,” Trigg said. On March 25, the state Senate unanimously approved SB 2123, which would allow only Republicans and Democrats to be nominated after the deadline, while leaving the requirements the same for all other candidates.

Republicans and Democrats colluding? Republicans ignoring the principle of equality before the law? Will wonders never cease? People, we will never, ever get Constitutional government by supporting individuals who are willing to commit these sort of shenanigans in the pursuit of political power. Watch their actions before you give credence to their words. One party with two factions is still a one-party system.

An interesting confession

In the early ’30s when that episode started, there were a lot of bank failures that wiped out a lot of money and I don’t know what the Fed could’ve done under those institutional arrangements but it, certainly, wasn’t in there pumping out new money like we would be doing today. Today, every time we have a major emergency, you know, the first thing we do is get on the microphone and open up – you open up a spigot. I mean look at what happened in 9/11. I mean on 9/11, we just flooded the markets with liquidity because of all the damage in New York, you know, all these New York banks and investment banks, they’re receiving billions in payments every day and they’re making billions in payments and you know, if they don’t receive it they can’t make it and so, just a hitch or two in that system can bring the thing down.

Well, we just pumped enormous amounts of liquidity in there through open market operations and our check clearing system, which the Houston branch is very involved in, we decided to give credit for checks deposited with us, on the next day when it would normally be done, even though all the planes were on the ground. We couldn’t collect the checks but we pretended we were collecting the checks and we gave credit for those checks, created enormous amount of float, which by law, we’re supposed to treat as a real cost, to us, but since we’re more a public institution than a private institution, we decided not to put our cost situation ahead of the public good, anyway – I’m getting too far off. We know how to handle those things better now, not well enough but not bad. – Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Bob McTeer at the Houston World Affairs Council

It must be nice to be considered an essential cog in the smooth operations of the financial lifeblood of the economy, worthy of receiving “enormous amounts of liquidity” (otherwise known as cash), whenever there is a perceived problem. Let’s just say that this isn’t the only pretense going on in our financial system of fictional money.

Mailvox: Wishful thinking

AbleArt writes: Contrary to the predictions of Vox, and many other conservative (even if they think they’re not conservatives) blog pundits, Air America is suddenly getting good ratings in its markets. See here. File this in the “failed predictions” along with Kerry’s immanent demise.

“Even by the chaotic standards of a new media company, Air America Radio’s first two months of broadcasting have been convulsive. The fledgling talk-radio network has replaced five top executives, been taken off the air in two of its top three markets and lost several crucial producers. By late April, current and former executives said last week, the company was perilously close to running out of money. It has since received an infusion of cash, though it has not disclosed how much or from whom.

The roiling in Air America’s front office has undercut its continuing assurances that it has the financing and leadership to survive past the presidential election in November, in pursuit of its goal of establishing a permanent liberal counterpart to Rush Limbaugh and his radio cohort on the right. In a sign that the privately held company’s financial woes have not fully abated, Al Franken, the network’s best-known star, said in an interview last week that he had agreed not to draw a salary, however temporarily, making him “an involuntary investor.”

Speaking of trifectas, Able hits one here. 1) I’m still not conservative. 2) I never said Kerry’s demise would be imminent, I said he’d lose in November. 3) I’m quite satisfied with my prediction of Air America’s failure. They supposedly had funding to last them years, and already they can’t pay their personnel.

An experiment in audio

The first Vox Tox is up on voxday.net. It pretty much blows – what do you expect from a complete amateur with nothing but a headset mike and a computer – but check it out if you’re so inclined and let me know what you think.

Even NRO is sick of it

Andrew Stuttaford writes: Step forward the latest bone-headed big government Republicans. Their names? Mike DeWine (a senator, amazingly) and Tom Davis (a congressman, astonishingly). In alliance with Ted Kennedy and the appalling Henry Waxman, these know-nothings are promoting a bill to give the FDA authority over tobacco products. That’s a bad idea to start with, but, interestingly, the bill also includes specific provisions banning certain types of flavored cigarettes (strangely, no flavors manufactured by Philip Morris are prohibited…). The whys and wherefores of this latest piece of legislative excess are discussed by Jacob Sullum in an excellent piece on Reason’s website, but this treacle-flavored phrase oozing out of Davis should tell you all that you need to know (and, yes, you can guess what’s coming): “This bill will help keep our children away from tobacco products and protect them from being targeted by the tobacco industry.”

Ah, yes, it’s for the children. So, we now have the party of big government versus the party of strong government. If you support smaller, weaker government, it’s clearly time to abandon both parties.

Mailvox: A fat, slow pitch hanging over home plate

Bill writes: Which resolution was that? And what did Bush mean when he said “America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our people.”

The technical casus belli for the current Iraqi war is Saddam Hussein’s defiance of 17 UN resolutions. Specifically, UN Security Council Resolutions 678, 686, 687, 688, 707, 715, 979, 1051, 1060, 1115, 1134, 1147, 1154, 1194, 1205, 1284 and 1441 were cited as justification.

What did Bush mean? He meant to obscure the fact that he was, in fact, seeking a permission slip. Considering how many other things about which he’s been dishonest – compassionate conservatism, the religion of peace, etc – the notion that the man is not particularly honest with the American people in his political speeches should hardly surprise anyone at this point in time. As further proof of Bush’s obeisance to the United Nations:

October 11, 2002. In a major victory for the White House, the Senate early Friday voted 77-23 to authorize President Bush to attack Iraq if Saddam Hussein refuses to give up weapons of mass destruction as required by U.N. resolutions.

November 8, 2002: UNSCR 1441 – Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, 1. Decides that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991), in particular through Iraq’s failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and the IAEA, and to complete the actions required under paragraphs 8 to 13 of resolution 687 (1991);

…13. Recalls, in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations;

March 20, 2003: U.S.-led forces began the major ground invasion aimed at overthrowing Saddam Hussein as Iraqis braced for the intense “awe and shock” airstrike campaign that could be launched at any time….

May 25, 2003: As the United States and Britain put forward a new UN resolution underpinning Iraq’s future government, Baghdad was rocked by more deadly blasts and US troops battled Shiite militiamen in the capital’s Sadr City slum. Britain said the resolution pledged a full transfer of sovereignty and a key role for the United Nations in Iraq.