Friday, June 27, 2008

Bill Clinton or George Bush?

People like asking Bob Barr, "Bill Clinton or George Bush?"

The man who wrote the book The Meaning of Is (2004) and led the impeachment effort a decade ago chooses Bill Clinton.

Full shows -
  • The Third Man? - Jane Hamsher and Bob Barr -
  • Bob Barr - Daily with Lindsay Campbell -

Not with fear in their eyes but love in their heart

... men, women, children, government leaders all around this great world from all different countries will once again look to America not with fear in their eyes but love in their heart and respect for what we will be fighting for ... that is, to restore the bill of rights, to restore the constitutional precepts of freedom and privacy, and to restore liberty to America... [6:18 - 6:43]

Monday, June 23, 2008

Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Creek flies here, on its way to the Mississippi, at Minnehaha Falls. The word minnehaha means waterfall. The name of the city was originally Minnehapolis, meaning "waterfall city", as its activities in the mid-1800s centered around the waterfalls on the Mississippi and the mills powered by them, cutting timber and grinding grain. The letter 'h' was quickly dropped to facilitate breathing.

The name Minnehaha Falls beautifully hides its superfluity.

Related post:

Muskrat in Minnehaha Creek

I went on an expedition last Wednesday to Minnehaha Creek, after hearing about a sighting there the week before. One block east of the 34th Avenue bridge here's what I saw, a beaver, paddling along, carrying a branch with lots of fresh green leaves. Hope to get a closer shot next time.

Correction (Jun 29, 2008): After seeing it closer yesterday, I now think it's a muskrat, not a beaver.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Will you help?

Liberty is a team effort.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The dog of war unleashed

Preface: For all my Democratic friends who go on about President Bush and his precipitous moves in the Middle East, this article is for you.

In a parallel universe, Presidents of the United States of America are held accountable for unconstitutional threats, invasions, and occupations.

The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces ... while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies,—all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.
- Federalist LXIX

Whereas "We, the people," as stated in the preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America, did "ordain and establish this Constitution" in order to, among other ends, "provide for the common defense."

Whereas the Constitution of the United States enumerates the limited powers granted therein by the free people of the United States and vested in the specified branches of the Government of the United States.

Whereas, according to Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution of the United States, "The Congress shall have the Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay ... for the common Defense ... of the United States," and not for intervention.

Whereas, according to Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution of the United States, "The Congress shall have Power ... To declare War," and not the President.

Whereas, according to Article 2, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States, "The President shall be the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States ... when called into the Actual Service of the United States," and not before.

Whereas, according to Thomas Jefferson, the Constitution of the United States "expressly requires the concurrence of the three branches to commit us to the state of war, but permits two of them, the President and the Senate, to change it to that of peace, for reasons as obvious as they are wise."

Whereas, according to Thomas Jefferson, referring to the Constitution of the United States in a letter to James Madison, "We have already given, in example one effectual check to the Dog of war, by transferring the power of letting him loose, from the executive to the Legislative body, from those who are to spend to those who are to pay."

Whereas the President has presented Congress and the American people with a fait accompli in his threatened invasion and occupation of Haiti.

Whereas the President, in response to the question, "Mr. President ... do you intend to make as a pattern using military action without the consent of Congress or the approval of the American people?" answered: "With regard to Congress ... I think we'll have to take this on a case by case basis. In terms of popular approval, the American people, probably wisely, are almost always against any kind of military action when they first hear about it unless our people have been directly attacked. And they have historically felt that way, and obviously, at the end of the Cold War, they may be more inclined to feel that way. The job of the President is to try to do what is right, particularly in matters affecting our long-term security interests. And unfortunately, not all the decisions that are right can be popular."

Whereas, according to Article VI of the Constitution of the United States, "This Constitution ... shall be the supreme Law of the Land," and "The Senators and Representatives ... and all executive ... Officers ... of the United States ... shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution..."

Whereas absolutism begins where support for the Constitution of a free people ends.

May we, the People, resolutely call on our Representatives and Senators to impede the occupation of Haiti, which is unconstitutional in substance, not being for the common defense, and in means, not being initiated by Congress. Congress has the constitutional power to impede this operation. First, either House may declare that the acts of war launched were unauthorized; second, the House of Representatives may withdraw its funding for this venture; and third, the House of Representatives may impeach that officeholder who breaks the supreme law of the land which is our Constitution, duly so if after a long train of abuses and usurpations. If we fail to act now, how shall we act if that officeholder launches a reckless venture in Iran without our consent, or the consent of our Representatives?

May we leash this dog who, in the name of saving democracy abroad, has snarled at the democracy due within our own constitutional republic.

Postscript: This article did appear in the Minnesota Libertarian, October 1994. Only the name of one country has changed. Instead of Iran, the article originally read Bosnia.

When will the partisans on both sides remove their blinders to see how both parties set and accept the precedents of the other now?

I am disappointed that the Democrats have not impeached another President, Dick Cheney, the President of the Senate, since their rise to power in Congress in 2006.

The Congress does not have the power to vest its own power elsewhere. Neither is the President of the Senate vested with executive powers.

The next best thing to an impeachment might be the election of Bob Barr, a check and a balance on both party monsters. To all evidence he seems to take the rule of law seriously, while the real anarchists of both parties play.

Is Representative Dennis Kucinich's information accurate? How would we, the American people, know?

What does President Clinton's phrase really mean, doing the right thing?

The adapted article "The dog of war unleashed" was originally published in The Minnesota Libertarian, October 1994, p. 4, with the word Bosnia written instead of Iran. The author, Casey Bowman; the cartoonist, Logan Quinn; and the original publication are due attribution.

Related links

Update (Jul 3, 2008): Seymour Hirsh - Preparing the Battlefield: The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran
The New Yorker, July 7, 2008

Update (Aug 11, 2008):
Ron Suskind and Philip Giraldi provide evidence to fuel the impeachment of Cheney.

Bob Barr tells his story on Bloomberg

Bob Barr tells his story. What happened to the Republican Party after the Republican Revolution of 1994? Barr argues in this interview on Bloomberg that it died 4 years later in a meeting with Newt Gingrich right before the 1998 election. However, in his book The Meaning of Is (2004) I learned that things changed much earlier than that. It happened with Newt's cave (p. 223) on the Clinton 1995 budget, where Barr reports that Gingrich meant to discipline Republicans who did not do a 180 with him, with Gingrich that is.

Barr continues, explaining that he stayed in the Republican Party after 1998 because he saw hope yet for reform from within the party. This hope disappeared for him when (1) he heard Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez say that habeas corpus was no longer important and (2) President Bush repeatedly say that he would spy on American citizens within this country without court orders because he was commander-in-chief, even though there's a law that says he can't.

I must say that personally these were exactly the two things I saw in the Bush administration that deeply alarmed me. I remember turning to a friend of mine, while watching Kafka's play Amerika at the Jeune Lune Theatre and saying that Bush needed to be impeached if he didn't back off. That was early 2006. Since then I have changed my mind. Now I support impeaching Cheney instead, after learning more, particularly from Frontline. I continue to be deeply alarmed, and the Democrats are no succor.

Responding to the dull argument in the third video, I say it's not campaign finance that's at the root of the two-party state, it's the form of election. We Americans can address the problem without curtailing political speech, by moving to a form of election that's truly general.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

An inkling of future mugwumpery

The other day I happened to find some notes I wrote in July 1994 where I use the word mugwump.
mugwump (good word to use to describe independent thinkers in parties, moving back and forth)
It was in the context of my writing on For A Truly General Form of Election for The Minnesota Libertarian.

Here's the context...
**** 12 jul 94 ****

Changing the Primary to a Runoff Election

Under this system, the primary election would select two candidates, regardless of party, to compete in the general election. One ballot would list candidates from all parties at the primary election; the top two vote-getters would go on to the general election. The major political parties would endorse only one candidate; that candidate would carry the party's label on the ballot. Others vying for the position would have to organize and attain a substantial number of signatures to get on the primary ballot. They would be listed on the ballot with some oparty designation other than DFL or IR.

This idea is proposed as a way to increase political participation. It could provide a direct connection between the work of the caucus and the results at the primary. Plus, candidates who do not win the major political party endorsement would have to organize political support just to get on the ballot. It could encourage greater primary election participation because of the wider range of candidates on the ballot.

It is also seen as a way to better define the role of a party member and make the work of party activists more meaningful. It would reward the work of the party activists who, after a deliberative process, would be able to place their candidate on the ballot with their party endorsement.

Opponents say the existing primary system works well as a check and balance with the parties' candidate endorsements. They fear that some of the advantages of our two-party system would be lost under the new arrangement. For instance, in this system the potential for two Democratic gubernatorial candidates running against one another in the general election is very real. (Only one could bear the DFL label; the other could not be DFL, even though his/her ideology and positions could be closely aligned with Democratic principles.) Presenting voters with two candidates of similar ideology distorts the reasons for having competitive elections in the first place. In this case, voters won't be given a real choice of plans and policies. They would have to choose a candidate based on differences in nuance instead of differences in values and policy positions.

Minority groups could have cause for concern in that run-off elections could lead to under-representation of minorities in public offices.

Another concern is that the new system would encourage intra-party dissension and the formation of new political parties as splinter groups form around candidates who lose the endorsement. The preponderance of many smaller, active parties could lead to a dysfunctional multi-party system where public officials are elected with only small pluralities. Contributing to this trend of a factional, multi-party system is the effect of allowing voters to vote for a candidate of one party for one party for one position and a candidate of another party for other positions.
Citizens League (1991) - The Party Caucus: An Inquiry, pp 26-27

[CRB: An idea that occured to me reading this is as follows:

The primary election would be as described above except for ...
  • The primary would allow the candidates to throw their votes behind another candidate receiving a larger number of votes.

  • The first two candidates to reach a tally of 1/3 of the votes each, or the two with the highest tally after a defined (short) period (including a presentation), become the two to compete in the general election, although write-ins should be allowed even in the general election.

  • There shall be a public presentation of the pre-recorded arguments of each candidate, proportioned in time to the percentage of votes in the primary, before this post-primary tallying.

  • There shall be a public presentation of the pre-recorded arguments of both general election candidates equally proportioned in time, or alternatively, if mutually consented to, a public debate between the two candidates before the general election.]

[CRB (14 jul 94): flowing vs. still party, standing, stagnant, fresh, stale, stirring

Title of article: 'GO ON, CREATE A STIR.' or 'LET'S CREATE A STIR'
- There shall be a public voting of all candidates in ascending order of tally, except for those receiving less than a given percentage of the vote, say one percent, with an equal time limit on all, say a quarter-minute, with no commentary.

General Primary Election vs. Closed Primary Elections

mugwump (good word to use to describe independent thinkers in parties, moving back and forth)]

[CRB: * 17 jul 94 * term to use: party 'incrustation' (see W 1974) and 'party gridlock' and 'party entrenchment'

'freeflowing' democratic electorate as a basis for the classical republican offices of one, few, and many

'freeflowing political conversation and party organization']


**** 21 jul 94 ****

a general primary for all the people and all the parties
biplurality election

let the people together choose two major candidates through fresh parties with equal status

rather than having to divisively choose them through stagnant parties with special status

Letter to a nose-holding Republican

Since you're "holding your nose" on McCain, I thought I'd send you this info for you to consider as Barr is new to you. I'm a Barr proponent just in case you hadn't noticed. :-)

Even though Barr is not a conservative, neither is McCain.
[Note to reader - Barr is only a conservative if you define it as a label for someone who's serious about respecting the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, in which case it's equivalent to a classical liberal, or a libertarian. James Buchanan, in his book, Why I, Too, am Not a Conservative: The Normative Vision of Classical Liberalism describes masterfully the important difference, reiterating and amplifying Hayek's point.]
To conservatives in general, I'd argue that Barr is more conservative than McCain on many important issues, such as government spending. If you disagree, I'd be interested in hearing about your perspective. What defines your conservatism?

Here he was on Glen Beck on Friday -

- (Part 1)
- (Part 2)
- (Part 3)
- (Part 4)
- (Part 5)
- (Part 6)

Barr has also written a book The Meaning of Is (2004), which I've read. Barr describes his experience and disappointment with the Republican Party. For example, he recounts how Newt Gingrich caved on the Clinton budget in 1995, doing a mysterious, sudden 180 degree turn, telling Republicans that "he was going to keep a list of every member who did not vote to cave on the Clinton spending package and that the list would later be used to punish us." Barr continues,
One of the things that always set Newt apart from his Democrat predecessors was that he had—prior to that point—always urged us to vote our consciences and our districts. I knew something major had broken inside our party leadership during the shutdown, and I doubted things would ever be the same again. I was not wrong. For the first time in my congressional service, I found myself questioning my presence in Washington. If I was merely going to be asked to be a rubber stamp for this kind of nonsense, I was not sure I wanted any part of the system.... By the end of the Clinton administration, the Republican Party—with a handful of exceptions—was just as unprincipled as Bill Clinton. We had absorbed his political tactics so completely that we did not even seem to remember a time when we had acted any differently. (pp. 223, 228)
Barr writes,
As America burned, the Republican Party was fiddling away. (p. 114)
Again, I'd be interested in hearing what positions you view as conservative and important in this election, and how you view McCain and Barr on these issues if you have the time to share that with me. I myself fear we're going gangbusters down the road to serfdom with either major candidate, so I'm trying to better understand what attracts or repels people from different perspectives. If Barr is to win, he'll need support from both Republicans and Democrats. David Walker, the comptroller general, has made me feel that addressing these issues is urgent. Walker argues that we have about four or five years now to get serious. Here he is on Glenn Beck in January, 2008 -

Here he is on 60 Minutes -

Here's a video interview of David Walker on BBC in 2006 -

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A letter to a disillusioned Republican

A Republican wrote me long ago,
I wanted to tell you that I bought Liberty the other day. I enjoyed many of the articles. The magazine sure does bash government, playing no favorites with any party. Some of the pieces, especially some of the letters, had too much of a pro-anarchy slant to them for my taste. It is true that our government has become too intrusive, to the point of denying the people liberties. That has to change. But I still think our system is not flawed and there is a need for government. A society without government would be nothing less than chaotic, with no means to protect the people's liberties when some tried to seek the natural desire for power. Anyway, I did enjoy reading the magazine and tend to feel as disillusioned with the Republican candidates as many of the authors. They are all old, long-time politicians who are in their positions because they have excelled at "playing the game".

I responded with this letter,
The mainstream among libertarians (classical liberals, market liberals... ) in a tradition that stretches back through liberalism of the 1800's, whiggism of the 1700's, and the leveller movement of the 1600's is one characterized not by antipathy to government, but rather to oppression. Allow me to quote from an anonymous tract of the English "levellers" who were influenced by the Anabaptist movement which began in the 1500's
The King, I confesse, has reason to cry out upon the A[n]abaptists, because he knowes them to be enemies not of Government, but oppression in Government, and all those who intend to oppresse in any manner, ought, if they will be true to themselves to doe so too; for the Anabaptists are oppressions enemies, whoever be the oppressours.
The Compassionate Samaritane (1646)
The anabaptist movement contained a full spectrum with regard to the oppression they saw, from the violent Munsterites to the civil Levellers to the pacifist Mennonites. The first of these did their best to discredit all of Anabaptism by their violent anarchy. The latter, as earlier Christians did, successfully protested oppression with their nonresistant martyrdom. The Levellers found middle ground in their patient and civil resistance acting to reform government through petitioning and constitutionalism, setting an example for those a century later and an ocean apart. Compare these words from the Leveller and Anabaptist Richard Overton to those of Jefferson 130 years later
For by natural birth all men are equal, ... born to like propriety, liberty and freedom, and as we are delivered of God by the hand of nature into this world, every one with a natural innate freedom and propriety, ... even so we are to live, every one equally ... to enjoy his birthright and privilege, even all whereof God by nature hath made him free .... Every man by nature being a king, priest, prophet, in his own natural circuit and compass, whereof no second may partake but by deputation, commission, and free consent from him whose right and freedom it is.
Richard Overton (1646) - An Arrow Against All Tyrants
...The web offers a medium whereby articles may be clarified by links to lexicons where terms may be defined as the writer understands them and to other articles that allow for the more depth depending on the interest and strength of the reader.

For example, ... the term 'libertarian' I would link to an article written some four decades ago by Dean Russell of the Foundation of Economic Education
Here is a suggestion: Let those who love liberty trade-mark and reserve for our own use the good and honorable word "libertarian."

Webster's New International Dictionary defines a libertarian as "one who holds to the doctrine of free will; also, one who upholds the principles of liberty, esp. individual liberty of thought and action."

In popular terminology, a libertarian is the opposite of an authoritarian. Strictly speaking, a libertarian is one who rejects the idea of using violence or the threat of violence—legal or illegal—to impose his will or viewpoint upon any peaceful person. Generally speaking, a libertarian is one who wants to be governed far less than he is today.
  • A libertarian believes that the government should protect all persons equally against external and internal aggression, but should otherwise generally leave people alone to work out their own problems and aspirations.

    While a libertarian expects the government to render equal protection to all persons against outright fraud and misrepresentation, he doesn't expect the government to protect anyone from the consequences of his own free choices. A libertarian holds that persons who make wise choices are entitled to enjoy the fruits of their wisdom, and that persons who make unwise choices have no right to demand that the government reimburse them for their folly.

  • A libertarian expects his government to establish, support, and enforce the decisions of impartial courts of justice—courts which do not recognize or refer to a person's race, religion, or economic status. If justice is to be rendered, the decisions of these courts must be as binding upon government officials and their actions as upon other persons and their actions.

  • A libertarian respects the right of every person to use and enjoy his honestly acquired property—to trade it, to sell it, or even to give it away—for he knows that human liberty cannot long endure when that fundamental right is rejected or even seriously impaired.

  • A libertarian believes that the daily needs of the people can best be satisfied through the voluntary processes of a free and competitive market. And he holds the strong belief that free persons, using their own honestly acquired money, are in the best possible position to understand and aid their fellow men who are in need of help.

  • A libertarian favors a strictly limited form of government with many checks and balances—and divisions of authority—to foil abuses of the fearful power of government. And generally speaking, he is one who sees less, rather than more, need to govern the actions of others.

  • A libertarian has much faith in himself and other free persons to find maximum happiness and prosperity in a society wherein no person has the authority to force any other peaceful person to conform to his viewpoints or desires in any manner. His way of life is based on respect for himself and for all others.

  • A libertarian doesn't advocate violent rebellion against prevailing governments—except as a last resort before the concentration camps. But when a libertarian sees harm rather than good in certain acts of government, he is obligated to try his best to explain to others who advocate these measures why such compulsory means cannot bring the ends which even they desire.

  • The libertarian's goal is friendship and peace with his neighbors at home and abroad.
Dean Russell (1958) - Who is a libertarian?
David Nolan, founder of the Libertarian Party in the early '70s, would, according to a recent article of his, not call anyone a libertarian who supported a flat income tax as opposed to a sales tax or his preferred tax, a property tax. This is absurd and shows the effects of prolonged partisanship....

Look to the Cato Institute for the mainstream. Its founders originally were active in the Libertarian Party but realized it was going nowhere (according to a recent Wall St. Journal article). They use the term "market liberalism" to describe their political orientation. I highly recommend their recently published "Cato Handbook for Congress". Former Minnesota Congressman Tim Penny just became a fellow there.

Cato has been touting the national sales tax, too, which is anathema to my mind. What is important is finding sources of information that share a reverence for the spirit of liberty....
The real friends of the Union are those,

Who are friends to the authority of the people, the sole foundation on which the Union rests.

Who are friends to liberty, the great end, for which the Union was formed.

Who are friends to the limited and republican system of government, the means provided by that authority, for the attaining of that end.
James Madison (1792) - The Union

I wrote the letter above after leaving the Libertarian Party in the mid-90's, entering the political wilderness where "none of the above" received most of my votes, as the Libertarian Party seemed to offer zero-tax nonsense.

Recently I've been reconsidering joining if only the party could disentangle itself successfully from the anarchists, from those who would use libertarian dreams to fuel anarchic primevalism. Liberty, paired with constitutional power, is not a stopping point on the "freedom train" of the anarchists, as they would like to portray it. Libertarians and anarchists are camps opposed. Now if they want the name "libertarian" now, just as others wanted the good name "liberal" and destroyed it, fine. That's life. The ideas remain.

The ideas of liberty and our Constitution need our support now, whatever we call them. We have little time. This is a defining moment, November 2008. Call us "pirates" for all I care. The Levellers adopted a label of opprobrium. Just let us call ourselves something we can rally around. I'm calling myself a "mugwump" here out of respect for the 19th-century mugwumps' prescience and rare concern for future generations. Some label we're bound to settle on. "Libertarian" for now this year will probably still do.

My instinct is to renew the symbol of the liberty pole, which was common in the first half of our history together. Let's use it now again, but try to keep it universal, above government, above mere parties, on the level of our Declaration of Independence.

Now that Bob Barr has won the nomination of the Libertarian Party, please consider voting for him. He's driving the anarchists batty.

Speaking of anarchists, don't you see there's more anarchy in the Republican Party lately with their nonchalant disregard for the long-held principles of this country, namely habeas corpus and due process. P. J. O'Rourke was recently in Minneapolis arguing that libertarians have no sense for tradition. What? Libertarians, in my experience, have a profound devotion to the traditions that matter, namely those revolving around procedural rights, such as trial by jury, warrants, torture, civilian oversight of the military, and such. Where is the concern these days amongst the Republican Party for these traditional niceties, some of which date back to Magna Carta?

In the March/April 1995 issue, The Minnesota Libertarian republished Dean Russell's definition of a libertarian, which I had submitted, as its front-page article. The editors of The Minnesota Libertarian added this note
Although this essay was written 40 years ago it still reflects the attitude of Libertarians today.
Version 1.1 - Jun 5, 2008

A letter to a Democrat

No greater wrong, no grosser insult on humanity can well be conceived [than slavery]; nor can it be softened by the customary plea of the slave-holder's kindness. The first and most essential exercise of love towards a human being is, to respect his rights. It is idle to talk of kindness to a human being whose rights we habitually trample under foot. 'Be just before you are generous.' A human being is not to be loved as a horse or a dog, but as a being having rights; and his first grand right is that of free action; the right to use and expand his powers; to improve and obey his higher faculties; to seek his own and others' good; to better his lot; to make himself a home; to enjoy inviolate the relations of husband and parent; to live the life of a man.... Because a number of men invade the rights of a fellow-creature, and pronounce him des[t]itute of rights, his claims are not a whit touched by this. He is as much a man as before. Not a single gift of God on which his rights rest is taken away.
William Ellery Channing - The Duty of the Free States, 1842

... "Be just before you are generous." ...

I used to be a staunch Democrat. I understood liberalism to include the use of tax money to do good, provided that individual rights be not sacrificed at the altar of 'good' and that taxation and the government action taxation affords be constitutionally limited.

The line between liberalism and something quite different lies precisely where rights begin to be violated, and I mean the equal rights described in the Declaration of Independence.

There are countless infringements of these rights in MinnesotaCare, placing obstacles in the way of the pursuit of happiness in exchange for a politician's promise of happiness itself.

Of particular concern to me is the principle of medical privacy.

Permit me to quote from the official summary of Senate File 845 which passed at the end of this session:
Industry participants (group purchasers, employees, providers, state agencies and political subdivisions) are able to provide patient identifying data required by state law with or without patient consent, and may not be held liable for doing so.

Let us not go down the path of hubris and disaster, however clothed with parental benefaction.

Note: I wrote this and submitted it to e-Democracy's MinnesotaPolitics mailing list in the mid-1990s. Recently this issue has come to the fore in Senate File 3138 regarding government data warehousing of DNA fingerprints taken from the flailing feet of all babies born in Minnesota without parental consent. Both houses and both parties voted overwhelmingly to do this (3 voted against it total, I understand). Governor Pawlenty vetoed it, stopping the warehousing, but not the data collection, as I understand it.

Are there similar bi-partisan efforts brewing at the federal level?

Please consider Bob Barr and his veto pen.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The importance of medical privacy

I'm republishing a report on a health care town meeting in Rochester, Minnesota, May 7, 1994, which included this statement on medical privacy. Over the years I have frequently recounted Dr. Henderson's point,
The final speaker, Dr. Ed Henderson, retired from Mayo Clinic, and presently the executive director of the Zumbro Valley Medical Society and Emeritus Professor of Orthopedic Surgery in the Mayo Medical School, began with appreciation for being included at this event. He expressed his belief that physicians have been deliberately left out of the debate. The important facet of health care disregarded as a result has been the physician-patient relationship, the direct contact between doctor and patient that serves as a basis for care. The patient must see his doctor as his advocate, making sure that decisions are made that will ensure that patient will get the best treatment. Trust is critical. The confidentiality of their conversation is necessary for a proper diagnosis and treatment. I asked Dr. Henderson if he was aware of any organization taking a strong stand on the principle of medical privacy. He was aware of not one such group.

Shall we trust Clinton? Why not trust ourselves?
Casey Bowman, Minnesota Libertarian, June 1994, p. 7

Here's the rest of the report, which preceded the two paragraphs above,
Health Care Reform Meeting
by Casey Bowman

On May 7, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) sponsored their second Meeting on Health Care Reform. Before the meeting began, MN State Representative Gil Gutknecht, who chaired the host committee and introduced the speakers at this event, came up to us members of the LPM and talked with us in a manner of mutual respect. ALEC organizers gave us permission to put our "Project Health Choice" literature describing the National Libertarian Party health care proposal at the welcome desk. ALEC was true to its own words "empowering citizens in the health care debate."

The speakers in attendance were Congressman John Linder from Georgia, Wendell Cox of ALEC, Carl Parks from Citizens for a Sound Economy, Congressman Rod Grams, and Dr. Ed Henderson, Emeritus Professor of Surgery at the Mayo Medical School.

Congressman Linder attributed to Disraeli a sequence such as, "Bondage... Faith... Understanding... Courage... Liberty... Abundance... Complacency... Dependency... Bondage..." We need to learn from history and rebuild "understanding" before "dependency" sets in. Linder also warned that the Clinton plan intends to control entry into specialist practice.

The next speaker, Wendell Cox, warned against the coming rationing by waiting in line, by age, and/or by whom you know. He mentioned the "equality of poverty" experienced in the USSR, to which I might add it was an "equality of the graveyard" for millions.

Carl Parks, of Citizens for a Sound Economy, a group founded ten years ago at George Mason University with 250,000 current members, started by explaining that the term "universal coverage" is fine rhetoric, but what it means for everyone is a system like that provided to the veterans in VA hospitals. Parks felt the government is currently pushing the Gulf War Syndrome under the rug because they do not want to spend the money correcting the problem.

The speakers pointed out that the debate in Congress is not fair and the vote will not be either. Medical Savings Accounts have strong bi-partisan support and would be in the fore if Clinton had not been elected. The problem is the committee power hierarchy. For example, Senator Dingell is chair of some important committee. In exchange for the votes of four southern oil state members, he promises his support on oil import fees. Let us hope that Congressman Linder, who serves on the Committee on Committees, will work on the reform of committees. If the Republicans fail to reform the inequality in Congress among those elected to the same office, the Libertarians must address this issue vociferously. It is crucial.

Many in attendance believed that the Clinton plan was only a temporary stop on the way to a single-payer plan. That is, the socialization of medical care will necessarily follow the socialization of health care insurance. Representative Gil Gutkneckt reported that our own state Senator Linda Berglin is advocating MinnCare as a temporary plan that will lead our state down the road to a single-payer system.

The final speaker, Dr. Ed Henderson...

This article was originally published in The Minnesota Libertarian, June 1994, pp 5, 7. The author and the original publication are due attribution.

The first two questions

Out of purely historical interest—were it only so—, here are the first two questions at the "town hall meeting" hosted by KSTP in the Twin Cities on April 8, 1994.
Mr. Rob Horner [from St. Paul]: Hi. Welcome to Minnesota. It's indeed an honor. I'd like to talk philosophically. The philosophical basis for universal health coverage. I'll go first. Then I'd like to hear your philosophical arguments in support. I've got an interest in the ethics of redistribution. I firmly believe that the redistributionist policy undermines the basic sense of personal responsibility by transferring authority for decisions, crucial life decisions, from individuals to the state. When a do-everything government assumes control over a person's most personal responsibilities, we lose faith in our capacity to make our own decisions. And we've seen the deleterious effects of dependency upon an institution such as...

KSTP: Go ahead and ask your question.

Mr. Horner: OK, my question is: Is your plan really a health plan or is it a power grab? I'd like the philosophical arguments in support of your plan. I do not want to hear compassion. I want something more concrete.

President Bill Clinton: Compassion is part of my philosophy. But anyway.. Philosophically, I don't believe the government can solve all the problems for people and I don't think you should rob people of their personal responsibilities or their personal choice. That's why I don't have a government-run plan. It's private insurance, and people who don't have insurance have the responsibility to provide it themselves. But I believe philosophically it is wrong for people not to assume responsibilities for themselves and let other people do it. And what's happening today—let me just give you two examples. Self-employed person X decides, "Well, I"m not going to have any insurance." Then they get in a wreck. They show up in the emergency room. They can't pay. They could have had insurance, but they didn't do it. That's fine for them. Except they get the care. Nobody lets them die, and nobody thinks they should, and then the rest of us pay for it, and that is irresponsible. Another example: Restaurant X and restaurant Y next together. One covers employees. The other doesn't. One is fulfilling a responsibility not only to himself and the employees, but to the rest of society by not asking us to bear the risk of anybody getting sick. The other isn't. The other has a competitive advantage in business. I don't think that's right, and the system we have is not an individual responsibility system. It's an irresponsibility system. I don't plan to take over the health care system. I don't want the government to run it. I think the government should help to organize the markets so that small business people and self-employed people can afford to have insurance, and so that they're not disadvantaged as compared with big business and government, and I think it is irresponsible for people not to provide for their own health care and irresponsible for the government not to make it possible for people to do it no matter what their station in life.

KSTP: Mr. President, Angela has your next question on the other side of the room.

KSTP: Mr. President, this is Shirley Kaiser. She's a school principal from St. Paul, and she's concerned about losing certain benefits. Shirley...

Ms. Shirley Kaiser:
Good evening, President Clinton. I have been real concerned about the health policy. I followed it along since your beginning presidency. I wondered about your and Hillary's true concerns, if this is... I've been concerned that it might be a political issue with you, and I wondered how it will affect all Americans.

Will we really receive better service? I wondered, like people who have insurance, will we have to pay more. Will we get less then? Will we have less choice of doctors, less choice of hospitals? Will the doctors have less choice of the services that they could provide? Will we have more government debt? Will we have more taxes? I'm wondering if your program is about controlling rather than better service. And I realize that we in Minnesota are ahead of many states, but I do have real concerns.

President Clinton: Well, let me try to answer two or three of those questions. You asked ten at once, so, hah.. I, uh,.. The only real tax we have in this plan.. We have to raise funds to pay for the unemployed uninsured, which we're all paying for anyway, folks. When they get sick, they wait till it's too late, it's too expensive. They show up in the emergency room, and we pay. Under our plan, we would raise a fund to pay for them and to pay for the discounts on small business from two sources: one, a tax on cigarettes, and the other, a modest assessment on the biggest American companies that will get the biggest windfall from this. That is, most big companies are paying way too much in insurance now to subsidize the rest of us. They'll get a windfall. We ask for a portion of that back to create a fund for discounts for small business and for the unemployed uninsured. There will be more choice under our plan. This idea that every American today has a choice of doctors is a myth. More than half the American people who are insured in the workplace today don't have a choice. They get one plan, and that's it. Ninety percent of the American people who're insured in small businesses with twenty-five or fewer employees have no choice. Under our plan, there well be more choices. That's why so.. one of the reasons why so many medical groups have endorsed this plan. Not just the nurses, but the family practitioners, the pediatricians, any number of other medical groups have endorsed our plan because they know it guarantees more choice. Now, if you have a plan today that is better than the one in our bill, you can keep it. In other words, if you have a plan today where your employer pays one hundred percent of your health insurance, not eighty percent, and you continue to do that, that's perfectly alright. We don't change that at all.

Ms. Kaiser:
[Barely audible (It won't cost me more if)] ... it's an individual when you go for universal coverage? If I were to have a policy isn't it true that it will cost people that now pay for insurance more?

President Clinton: No, if you don't pay your.. If your employer pays all of your insurance now..

Ms. Kaiser: They don't pay for all of my insurance. I..

President Clinton: Well..

Ms. Kaiser: .. carry family coverage..

President Clinton:
.. the question is whether it will cost you more...

Ms. Kaiser: [inaudible, still speaking]

President Clinton: It depends on a lot of factors. In all probability you won't. All the.. Not our studies but all the non-partisan studies that have been done show that more than half the people will get the same or better insurance for the same or lower cost. By and large, the people who will pay more are people who aren't paying anything now, people who have only very bare-bones coverage, and young single workers will pay more so that older people can pay less and we can have a large community rating. Otherwise, most other people will pay the same or less. But if you have a better plan than we require, what this does is to put a floor under you.

[increasingly flustered...]

We've got—keep in mind—I mean, I don't know where.. You know.. I understand.. I saw all those ads putting out all that propaganda. This is just politics. This is just a power play and all that. Tell that to these people who are disabled, who can't get insurance. Tell that to these old people who choose between medicine and food every month. Tell that to the one hundred thousand Americans a month who lose their health insurance. Tell that to the farmer and the small business people who insure at thirty-five percent and forty percent higher rate. I mean.. This is a bunch of hooey.

If people don't agree with me, let them come forward and contest me with their ideas, but I am sick and, I think, a lot of you must be sick of all this hot-air rhetoric in all these paid television ads and all these hit jobs for people who are making a killing from the insurance business that we have today. It is wrong, and we should change it.

KSPT: Mr. President..

President Clinton: I don't.. Let me just say something. I don't go around.. First two questions.. I don't.. I don't.. I mean, I don't mind doing this. I'll do this all night, but it never..

One of the things I've learned in twenty years of public life is you don't get very far questioning other people's motives. Most people I've met.. Contrary to what you read, most of the people I've met in public life are honest, well-meaning. They're not crooks. They're trying to do the right thing. We have differences of opinion. But this health care debate in my judgement has really been retarded, in more ways than one, by all this motive-throwing-around we've had. You know, if I hadn't wanted to take on a tough issue, I could have found something else to do with my time. I believe we have to do this, and if we don't do it, you're going to have more people without insurance, more people who can't afford what they got and a terrible situation in this country, and that's why I did it. That doesn't mean I'm right, but let's argue about what should or shouldn't be done, and not talk about other people's motives. I've even tried to convince the insurance industry I don't want to attack their motives. I just want us to argue about what we should do.
Transcribed by Casey Bowman (1994)

Is universal coverage really a power grab? Is it about controlling?

I wrote a letter to the Minnesota Libertarian, which was published in their June 1994 issue
Now President Clinton is attempting to socialize the health insurance system. Beyond the issue of dependency discussed in the last newsletter, there is another essential point to see: insurance companies invest. Beware of those who would like to control via government where these investments go, whether to their favorite businesses or movements. As one advisor of the Clintons, Mr. Michael Lerner, put it in his book The New Socialist Revolution (a self-described "attempt to explain why the only changes that will make sense in America are those that will move this country to socialism..."): "The rub, as in so many areas, is the absence of money."

I suspect that these "new socialists" are going after our nest eggs. There lies the real power grab.

See - "The Meaning of the Politics of Meaning", Wall St. Journal, p. A15 (Jun 3, 1993). Lerner writes,
Hillary Clinton has been under fierce attack for having advocated a "politics of meaning" and advocating a societal tilt away from selfishness and toward caring and community. According to Paul Gigot on these pages last Friday [May 28], I am Mrs. Clinton's guru in these matters.

It's certainly true that the Clintons and I are on the same wavelength on this issue. But what, exactly, is so frightening about the politics of meaning?

For more and perhaps an answer to Lerner's question, and the "first two questions", read - Michael P. Lerner (1971) The New Socialist Revolution: An Introduction to its Theory and Strategy. Lerner writes,
This book is an attempt to explain why the only changes that will make sense in America are those that will move this country to socialism... (p. xi)

The collapse of the American economy ... would create international havoc and thus the conditions for significant struggle in all of the advanced industrial societies, where revolutionary forces would find it easy to seize the moment.... (p. 275)

There is every good reason to think that a revolution will not occur in this country before fifteen or twenty years, and it may be as far as thirty years away. (p. 276)

Probably one of the first actions of a socialist government would be to make free such essential services as health care.... (p. 310)

The rulers must come to understand that if there is to be a sea of blood, it will be made of their blood as well. The one thing that can make the American [socialist] revolution less violent is the clear and public determination of a majority of people to defend that revolution with violence. (p. 279)

The pleasant gentleman on the Long Island Railroad reading his Wall Street Journal or the quiet technician working in Palo Alto or on Route 128 in Massachusetts, the Wall Street banker or the assistant secretary of state or agriculture or defense, the professor of political science who runs the institute on Latin America or the liberal senator—all participate daily in making decisions that sustain the daily violence upon which this system rests. ... [S]urely the violent men who surround us, with their gentle manners and sweet smiles and well-manicured lawns and all the rest of the petty concealments that hide a life of "honorable" crime, should be tried for their crimes by the peoples of the world. (p. 271)

But what do we want? In a word, "socialism." ... But let us be clear what we mean by "socialism." Socialism is the ownership and control of the means of production, and, through that, the control of all areas of life, by the majority of people who work.... Socialism is radical democracy, democracy extended to every area of our collective lives. (p. 287)

Letter to Jason Lewis (1995)

I wrote a letter to Jason Lewis on January 17, 1995. At the time, he was a talk show host on KSTP. Later he hosted a town hall meeting on health care for his radio show, which featured Twila Brase, the executive director of Citizens for Choice in Health Care, as it was known then.

This letter captures how I viewed the libertarian movement at the time, which differs from the views of the present-day anarchists Bob Barr defeated in Denver.
Thank you for your courageous work on behalf of liberty in Minnesota. Remember that "only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars." (Martin Luther King, Jr.)


There are three components of CCHC's effort, as I see it: 1) standing up for a free market in health care with equity in government law and taxes and against government usurpation, 2) acting as a clearing house for information to provide constructive criticism non-coercively to those in the market, and 3) suggest[ing] market-oriented changes in the tax-funded expenditure government makes in the name of the poor. The first two are obviously in consonance with libertarian principle (what are we libertarians but citizens for choice in everything innocent and good?), and the last being potentially but not necessarily in consonance with a transition away from dependence. I believe, as did our Libertarian gubernatorial hopeful Eric Olson, that gradualism is the humane way to wean those caught in dependence on government, so long as the direction towards independence is stubbornly maintained. I believe in shock therapy when it comes to opening up the free market with full equity in law and taxes. I do fear that the Republicans will carelessly be shockist in the former and gradualist in the latter, fomenting blind despair. As to my participation in CCHC, I plan to vote on the latter and abstain from votes on the former. (In my view, this is how libertarian senators should vote to stay true to principle and remain unblinded by power. As for how to wean from dependence, representatives could vote as their constituents instruct them with appropriate supermajority requirements to ensure that, while tax-funded benefits continue to be given, "gratitude" is not directed to any one Bismarckian party but to "the people" our representatives represent. I could go on ... but ... back to the point.)

CCHC needs membership fast to be effective this year. May I suggest the possibility of Twila Brase appearing on your show to get the good word out? Twila Brase has shown more leadership in organizing a grassroots effort opposing government control of health care in Minnesota than anyone else to my knowledge. The idea of asking you to talk with Twila on the air was actually made by someone else on the board who admires your work, to which another member expressed reservations about being associated with libertarians (I plan to lend him the Cato Institute publication Beyond Liberal and Conservative). Reminds me of the confusion sown against the Anabaptists a few centuries ago:
The King, I confesse, has reason to cry out upon the A[n]abaptists, because he knowes them to be enemies not of Government, but oppression in Government, and all those who intend to oppresse in any manner, ought, if they will be true to themselves to doe so too; for the Anabaptists are oppressions enemies, whoever be the oppressours.
Anonymous Leveller (1646) - The Compassionate Samaritane
Let us sow clarity.

All my best....

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Here's the postscript to that letter. Sound familiar??
PS: Last week (when I finally ventured forth into the world of online services) I chanced upon a message in the CompuServe Libertarian Debate Section on the subject of GOP "Reform" from Steve Dasbach, chair of the LP, dated January 8. In response to an earlier statement in that forum that "the LP will never become a truly viable 3rd Party until it can attract and hold those who may only share 70% of the 'pure' Libertarian views," it read:
I fully share your opinion. In my view, the LP must become a Party where we all agree on the direction that the country needs to head (toward greater individual liberty) while holding a variety of views about how far and how fast we should move in that direction. In effect, we need to work together to implement the changes we all agree on, and worry about our differences when they actually become relevant.
Steve Dasbach
Chairman, Libertarian National Committee
I remember one night when you were to have him, or someone else from the LP National, on. I rushed out of the barber's chair to be in my car in the parking lot for it[,] only to be disappointed at the no-show. I hope you have an opportunity to try again, if you have not already.

A dozen years later, I repeated my point, to be libertarian is not to be an anarchist. Indeed anarchy is not even in the direction of greater individual liberty - Hey hipsters, liberty is the new left (2007)
It was bound to happen. Libertarian is the new left.

Decentralization defines this new spectrum. Decentralization and liberalization are our best defense against those who would take us down the road to serfdom. Isn't that the great lesson of the 20th century? Yes, yes, in so many ways, but ...

Wait! Just one question.

Looking at this diagram, wouldn't anarchy be on the left?

No, I'd say... it's somewhere on the right.

Constitutional law, grounded in the American Declaration of Independence, with its presumption of liberty, with its limited powers, with its mixed republic, with its elections and juries, with its federalism, with its measured taxation, would stand to the left. True progress comes from the respect each of us has for a certain sphere of innocence and independent action that attaches to every person in his or her individual life and social interactions. The rights in this sphere are equal, innumerable, and inalienable. They do not conflict. They are natural. They are neutral. Creative people thrive in this freedom and build the world without having to ask permission. The Declaration of Independence is far left. It calls for a revolution in our thinking, in our culture, of which we have barely scratched the surface. The Constitution, in its art, merely tries to measure up.

As for the rest of the spectrum, amid the legal anarchy, you might find semblances of law. Perfunctory law would lie somewhere in the middle, going through the motions. Zombie law would patrol on the right, dead yet walking, and arbitrary.

Liberty and anarchy are distinct and opposed, as are liberty and collectivism.
We can agree to move towards Liberty, but not Anarchy, nor Collectivism.

Speaking of anabaptists, was the Dallas Accord a modern-day Bocholt? Better for libertarians the civility of the Levellers, who wrote the nearest thing to a precursor of our Declaration of Independence, An arrow against all tyrants (Richard Overton, 1646), except perhaps for the Dutch "declaration of independence" (1581), which does need a better translation.

Note on CCHC:

CCHC recently waged a successful campaign to stop SF 3138, a bill passed overwhelmingly by both parties in the Minnesota legislature to warehouse DNA information from blood samples taken from babies born in Minnesota without parental consent. It's like taking each baby's fingerprints. Can you picture that? It's an invasion of medical privacy. Parents have the right to choose with whom they entrust such sensitive information. It's troubling to see government office-holders barging in to procure this valuable information, uninvited, and holding onto it. Governor Pawlenty vetoed the bill 11 days ago. From his letter announcing the veto, it sounds like Minnesota officers still will take each baby's DNA fingerprints without parental consent, only they will refrain from storing it in their warehouse. Do I understand that correctly?

CCHC's change of name since has been unfortunate. I'd argue against it vehemently if I were still a Director. Innocent denotation, but bad connotations.