Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Liberal Fascism and Obama

By Chadwick Ciocci

(This article was originally published on The Americano.)

Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism is already a must read, but it will undoubtedly become known as visionary if the Obama administration continues its– pardon me– fascistic ways. When the President was (still is?) a candidate, opponents on the right vehemently held that he was a socialist- a real leftist potentially inspired by Marxist ideology and certainly by the radicalness of his associates such as Reverend Wright. And while this assessment isn’t completely off, the fact is that the Obama Administration has proven itself to be far more fascist than socialist.

Take for example this administration’s economic policies. One of the hall-mark signs of European fascism as exemplified by Italy’s Mussolini was government support of big businesses such as banks, manufacturers, etc. Sure, Mussolini removed a few heads of these companies (maybe literally) but supporting these companies became a matter of national prosperity, not just the economic success and failure of the companies themselves.

And while one might assume that businesses did not like this (because those on the left and right both almost always assume that businesses- especially large ones- prefer a capitalist environment,) the fact is that so long as they were doing well, businesses and government alike were hunky-dory. Then came the bad times, when business wasn’t so good. But what was around the corner? Government bailouts.

Fast-forward to today, where government inspired bubbles and regulation not only created the environment where businesses could make good money but alsocreated the conditions under which these businesses (used in the absolute broadest sense) would fail and then require government help to survive. It is a classic Fed/government inspired bubble that hurts everyone in the long run.

Now we have the White House removing and appointing CEO’s and regulating executive pay, and while this might upset the capitalist, who other than the CEO’s and executives being directly affected really minds this fact: we now live in a country where the government will not allow large businesses to fail and collapse. This is classic economic fascism, and yet it gets worse.

Let us move from the economic to the political, where the White House has declared war against Fox News and apparently has an enemies list deeply reminiscent of not just the Wilson administration’s war against the press but Nixon’s misguided attempts at silencing his opposition. Not only was Wilson deeply inspired by the fascistic tendencies that pervaded the Progressive movement he was a leader of, but he implemented those policies with zeal.

Now we have the Obama administration which has essentially nationalized certain companies, directly or indirectly controls the leadership of others and is openly trying to undermine the press which opposes him, and yet we’re surprised by all of this when he and others in his administration openly call themselves progressives!

Don’t be fooled: progressives aren’t the friendly but misguided liberals who live next door. They’re part and parcel of a serious movement in this country with deep intellectual and political roots which seeks to make both individuals and institutions dependent on government well beyond what any socialist in capable of.

Chadwick Ciocci is an editor for, a student of philosophy and theology at Fordham University and running for his fourth-term in public office in Connecticut.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lindsey Graham and the Neocon’s Last Grasp at Power

By Phil Fraietta

With the Obama-crazed media of today, one is very likely not to have heard Republican Senator Lindsey Graham’s latest comments on the state of his Party. Senator Graham, like the typical neocon he is, launched a verbal attack on libertarianism and non-interventionism. He even went so far as to say Congressman Ron Paul is attempting to “hijack” the Republican Party and turn it into a party of “angry white men.”

Many members of the audience Senator Graham was speaking to took exception to these comments and began to question him. Senator Graham, in a nutshell, responded that he held no personal disliking towards libertarians and even would encourage them to vote for him, but that he is not a libertarian and will not adhere to any libertarian principles because he will continue to support ideas that “can win.”

Regarding the first half of his response, I would like to question Senator Graham on how he can consider himself a conservative if he will not adhere to any libertarian principles.

Conservative, in the “Reaganite” meaning of the word, refers to one who adheres to the principles of limited government, free-market capitalism and non-interventionist foreign policy. This sounds strangely familiar to libertarianism, because it is libertarianism. As President Reagan said “If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals…”

So if Senator Graham has declared not to adhere to the principles of libertarianism then what principles is he adhering to?

The answer: big government, centrally planned economics and interventionist foreign policy.

These are the very same principles that the Republican Party decided to adhere to during the Bush years. With our ever-expanding budget deficit, Wall Street bailouts and empire-building mission we refer to as “The War on Terror”, the Bush Administration successfully implemented all of these principles.

This brings me to the second half of Senator Graham’s response, specifically the statement “can win.” What exactly did the neocons win Senator Graham?

The Republican Party is currently is the minority party in both houses of Congress, after being the majority just six short years ago. The Republican Party’s neoconservative Presidential Candidate, Senator John McCain, was heavily defeated by President Barack Obama, and the party’s neoconservative Vice-Presidential Candidate, Governor Sarah Palin, became the laughing stock of the country and has disappeared from the national political stage.

All the meanwhile, liberty-minded Republicans, like Congressmen Ron Paul and Jeff Flake have held their Congressional seats for what seems like forever, liberty-minded Republican candidates, like Rand Paul (candidate for the Kentucky Senate), continue to set fundraising records, and the Audit the Fed movement has gained the support of nearly 75% of the American people.

So, Senator Graham, it appears that it is the neoconservatives of the Party that can not win.

It will be interesting to see how leaders of the Republican Party address these comments. Will they continue to support Senator Graham and the neoconservative hold on the party, or will they finally return to the roots President Reagan instilled in the party and subsequently return to their winning ways?

I sincerely hope it is the latter, or the limited government, free-market, non-interventionist values we so dearly love may be lost forever.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Will something good come of Iraq?

By Douglas Kohn

This will be the question that all American policy makers, especially Neoconservatives will have to ponder for the years to come. Was Iraq worthwhile with the sacrifice of blood and treasure that came with it? Will it be an example of Arab Muslim democracy and if so, will it help American strategic goals?

In my opinion the answers are no, probably and no.

Just because Iraq is a democracy does not mean that it is going help America’s strategic goals in the Middle East. Iraq is a majority Shiite nation with close historical ties to Iran. The fact that it was ruled for sometime by Saddam Hussein, was basically just a fluke of history.

In spite of its internal divisions and the violence of the last few years, the three Iraqi ethnoreligious subdivisions, Arab Shiite Muslims, Arab Sunni Muslims, and Kurdish Sunni Muslims do not seem to want permanent separation. Iraq is not a completely poverty stricken country and falls in the middle between say, industrialized Western countries and poor African countries. The three groups seem to accept that to move forward they have to participate in the system. But Iraq remains largely anti American even if they see some benefits of having America participate in their security operations.

The two largest beneficiaries of the removal of Saddam Hussein were Iran and the Kurds. Northern Iraq, dominated by the Kurdish ethnic group is the only pro American faction in Iraq and they have started to build a real economy and functioning institutions.

Chances are however, even if it does not openly cooperate with Iran on strategic issues, the new Iraq will not stand in its way.

Further reasons that the Iraq venture can be considered a failure is because we have now essentially seen the end of its Christian community, one of the oldest in the world. For a large part of history, Iraq had a largely cosmopolitan outlook on the world. Not only was it home to a large Christian community, but before the creation of Israel it was home to the oldest (and one of the largest, post Holocaust) Jewish community in the world. The Iraqi Jewish community dated from 586 BC with the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem. Now the Christians, and especially Catholic, communities in Iraq have been devastated.

Further horrid acts are still going on in Iraq. The gay community in Iraq, largely ignored by Saddam, has been subject to inhuman barbarism that it is safe to say no Fundamentalist Christian in the United States, or most other countries, would ever dream of.

So Iraq, even if it is an example of democracy, will remain a very flawed one along the lines seen in South Africa, if I am forced to make a comparison.

Friday, October 9, 2009

2009 New York Students for Liberty Conference

On Saturday, October 10, 2009, the Columbia University Libertarians will present the 2009 New York Students for Liberty Conference.

From 8:30 am - 8:30 pm, the conference will feature a full day of speakers such as Fred Smith President of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Damon Root of Reason magazine, NYU Economics Professor Mario Rizzo, and many more!

The conference will serve as a forum for learning from experts in fields ranging from economics to history, meeting libertarian leaders and activists, discussing current issues, and sharing advice on best practices for advancing the cause of liberty on campus.

More information about this premier event for liberty can be found here:

Begun in 2008, Students For Liberty is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide a unified, student-driven forum of support for students and student organizations dedicated to liberty. To learn more and support this rapidly growing organization, please visit

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Regulation versus Wealth

By Douglas Kohn

For all the talk of implementing new regulations to tame finance, there are still elements of necessary deregulation that are being overlooked by the Federal Government.

The rules used to say that no one could get a mortgage unless they were able to pay 20% down on their home. This made sense, as the social consequences of having to later kick someone out of their home are more damaging than having large numbers of people not own their own home in the first place. This would still be considered “light touch” regulation.

America simply should restore the old regulation regime but consider deregulating in other areas. One of the most overlooked problems in America today is what the CPA Journal called “The Chilling Effect of Sarbanes-Oxley.” Sarbanes Oxley was passed (as usual, in a panic, with nobody reading all of the bill) in 2002 in response to the unusually large series of corporate scandals that came to light in the previous downturn. Included in these were Enron, Worldcom, Tyco and Arthur Andersen.

Arthur Andersen’s main role in that crisis was to be Enron’s auditor. This means they were an independent body hired by Enron to make sure the company’s books were clear of errors and to discover any possible fraud. As they did not do this correctly through both negligence and corruption, there was a crisis of confidence in the system. In response Sarbanes Oxley was passed to tighten auditing rules. An example of a new regulation was that CEOs had to sign off on the company’s financial statements and on the findings of their independent auditors.

The aforementioned regulation is not one of the more damaging ones, but the climate created by Sarbanes Oxley has made it grossly expensive for medium sized firms to go public on the stock market. The average cost of an Initial Public Offering (IPO) has reached $750,000. The result of this is that many American companies now find it easier (and cheaper) to bring their public offerings overseas, notably on the London Stock Exchange but to others as well.

Reform of Sarbanes Oxley is urgently needed to keep America’s medium sized firms competitive and able to raise money on the stock exchange for growth.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dealing with Iran

By Douglas Kohn

Fareed Zakaria this week made a very prescient call for patience with Iran. Iran is in every manner a threat to the United States and our allies in the region, but it is a manageable threat.

Iran’s behavior calls for increasing international isolation. The prescription for containing Iran should be as follows.

Sanctions should be in place as firmly as possible. The number one sanction that would do the most to destabilize the Ayatollahs would be to lobby Iran’s suppliers of refined gasoline to cut off supplies. Iran, although one of the world’s largest oil producers, lacks the capability to refine its oil supplies into gasoline. There is some debate in policy circles whether sanctions will turn the Iranian population against the regime or that their anger will be toward the West and outside powers in general for making their lives more difficult. Personally I think that the 10 days of protests that took place over the summer illustrate who the people of Iran blame for their problems.

Further security guarantees should be made by the United States to any nation attacked by Iran, or Iran associated affiliates. The United States should use the war in Afghanistan as a way to bolster our presence in the region, while drawing down in Iraq and staging war games that will send a message to the Ayatollahs.

Next, restarting negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians is necessary to delegitimize Hamas and Hezbollah to take away Iran’s stellar reputation in the Arab street that it is the defender of the Palestinians (easier said than done, but it is only one part of the formula).

There is also another significant parallel to the end of World War II that should be realized. Nazi Germany, before it became a greater threat to the world in and of itself, was the main check on the expansion of Soviet Communism. The fact that Hitler eventually became stronger than the Soviets and embarked on a conquest of the world changed the circumstances and forced America to help remove him. Once the Nazi regime was gone, the Soviets had nearly unchecked power to force their no less barbaric ideology on the world.

Now America has removed Saddam Hussein from power, unleashing Iran’s revolutionary zeal on the Middle East. We traded the practice of dual containment on two small powers to now having to fill the gap left by one of the regimes (Hussein).

The final point is that we have been here before. In the 1940s there were calls to use America’s nuclear monopoly to rollback Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and uphold the Kuomintang’s war against Mao’s Communists. But it turned out that these extreme measures were unnecessary. As we have done in the past, we can wait out the Ayatollahs.

It is here, in Fortress America, that we will outlast them.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Case Aginst Unions

By Patrick Coughlin

When the first labor unions were established in the United States, working conditions in nearly all manufacturing facilities were abdominal at best. Factory owners exploited employees, forcing them to work 14+ hour work days without a break in the worst of conditions. Mistreatment of employees nearly overshadowed the benefits the Industrial Revolution brought to the country. In one of the darkest hours of the American worker, labor unions were founded and provided employees with benefits such as an eight hour work days and a fair living wage.

However, labor unions in this country have transformed from champions of worker’s rights to powerful juggernauts that have unduly increased their influence and have stunted economic growth in the process. On average, General Motors must pay $70 in wages and benefits to each current worker per hour (this figure adds together the cost of active and retired workers, divided by the number of hours each current worker is on the clock). This translates to a higher cost of production—approximately $1,200 more—for each vehicle General Motors rolls off the assembly line (The Heritage Foundation). Once again, this figure includes compensation due to both active and retired workers.

To stay competitive with their Japanese counterparts, American car companies need to produce cars with comparable prices. In order to do so, some features such as power windows/door locks and keyless entry must be omitted as standard on certain models. Finally, during the restructuring of GM and Chrysler, the United Auto Workers gained an ownership stake of 17.5% and 65%, respectively. The argument that companies do better when the workers have a stake in its success is only true when the workers are the actual stock holders. In this case, the stock holders are a nightmarish bureaucratic body with only one goal: self-aggrandizement. The same can be held true for the government’s involvement. Unless the American taxpayer sees a dividend check in the mail, he or she does not benefit from having an ownership stake in a failing company.

Labor unions also have a stranglehold on American politics as they traditionally vote in blocs. It should be of no surprise that after receiving heavy union support in this past election cycle, President Obama signed off on a plan to restructure GM and Chrysler which allowed the UAW to take a large ownership stake in both (see above).

This is just a twenty-first century form of political patronage. Why is the public, then, not outraged by this, you may ask? The answer lies in a comment made by President Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel: “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” The Obama administration is seemingly using the current economic situation as an excuse to advance its supporters by dressing questionable actions as “beneficial” in these difficult times. This is clear government overreach of the “necessary and proper” clause of Article I of the Constitution.

A case for labor union reform will soon follow.

Decoding Qaddafi

By Rachel Ring

Libya’s leader Qaddafi made quite a triumphant return to the UN General Assembly. He was bold, brash, and all and all, very happy to be back in the spotlight. Yet, for all of the bravado beneath Qaddafi’s ninety-minute plus tirade, he was trying desperately to show that he is a leader with whom international players can do business with, and that he can be the man to represent the needs of Africa. He tried in part to accomplish this goal by wearing a black brooch of Africa the size of a grown man’s hand while speaking, and wearing all types of flowing, oddly pinned brown robes that apparently were supposed to resemble traditional African wear- what I like to call ‘Qaddafi Couture’.

This choice of garb might seem odd, but for Qaddafi it made at least some sense in trying to manipulate the public. Qaddafi originally came to power in 1969 and since Qaddafi’s take over, civil liberties have been restricted severely, and the quality of life has plummeted as well. Even by the low standards of the North African region, which is by no means a bastion of human rights or free speech (Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia are the other countries that make up North Africa), people in Libya have it very rough.

After he came to power, Qaddafi and Libya were in a sense banished from the international community due to the Lockerbie bombing, terrorism concerns, human rights violations, and his general unhinged demeanor. All of these past actions, of course, seem to be at odds with the UN’s concerns for human rights, but Qadaffi tried to polish his image with these groups by attending the Council on Foreign Relations meetings. This is obviously an irreconcilable paradox, but to Qaddafi, that does not matter. His appearance at the meeting alone signifies that he is back on the world scene after all of the sanctions and silent treatment from the West.

Qaddafi was elected head of the African Union last year, during a time when the African Union is desperate for attention to the concerns over climate change, poverty, AIDS and increasing inter-continental violence. It was a controversial choice, especially because Qaddafi is the leader of a country in an Arab-Muslim region not representing the whole of Africa, especially not of Sub-Saharan Africa.

During his speech (where he further tried to up his African “cred” by not speaking Modern Standard Arabic, but by speaking Libyan dialect composed of Arabic, French and local colloquial words), Qadaffi mentioned several times that Africa should play more of a role in UN bodies and councils, which, while a worthwhile suggestion is undermined by the fact that he is not the best person to represent it. This off base wardrobe further fed his delusion that he has some type of credibility to represent the whole continent of Africa, and in this dress he felt free to play the victim, to freely chastise the West for the sins of colonialism in order to gain favor with skeptical African countries. Yet at the same time he sits on oil in Libya, ensuring he will get US and European business.

The reversal of the UN on its attitude toward Qaddafi is a disturbing trend and further highlights the hypocrisy of an agency supposedly concerned with human rights, and especially with the future of Africa. Qaddafi has proven himself to be erratic, vengeful and unpredictable. It does not seem to be a smart course of action to suddenly invite such an unstable leader back into the fold of decision-making international leaders. Even if oil business could be lucrative, it is only temporary and not worth sacrificing the UN’s supposed morals for.

The UN will no longer have the authority to bad mouth countries such as Israel and the US if they continue to allow a human rights violator and terror supporter back onto the UN scene.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The End of European Socialism?

By Douglas Kohn

Europe, especially since the financial crisis, has made a drastic turn to the right. In all of Europe’s big powers the right is in power or the left is in retreat. Italy, France and Germany are now firmly in the hold of Center Right coalitions. In Spain and Britain, Center Left governments are under increasing pressure. In the case of Britain, the Labor government is a lame duck before the new government has been formed, and Britain’s Labor party, one of the two large parties, is now in third place behind the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats for the first time since 1982.

All over Europe the left is in disarray and it is quite paradoxical. In every poll of European public opinion, business is viewed with contempt and suspicion. In spite of these views, pro business parties have been thrust into power. This is partially because Europe’s immigration policies for the last 10 years have brought with it the problem of Islamic extremism within their own midst.

In Germany this past week, Angela Merkel was reelected with surprising results. Germany’s two main parties are Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democrats. Since 2005, the two parties have ruled together in an awkward coalition. Their intrinsic differences made it nearly impossible to implement proper economic reform to enable Germany to function in today’s increasingly interdependent world economy.

The election results have thrown the coalition to the wind. The new ruling coalition government will be between Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the smaller third party, the Free Democrats, led by Guido Westerwelle. The German left is in disarray, the Socialists, Communists and Greens have been left out to dry by the electorate, in spite of an overall anti business sentiment.

The Free Democrats are the most pro business party in Germany and now have a large coalition partner to help implement their ideas. Germany, like much of Europe, needs to free up its labor market, making it easier to hire and fire workers, and lower its overall tax burden, especially on businesses. Red tape also needs to be cut in order to make it easier for service sector businesses to develop, as Germany’s manufacturing sector is a disproportionately large sector of its economy that made it more vulnerable to the collapse in world demand for manufactures in the recent economic crisis.

This bodes well for Europe and the world. Freer markets in Germany will spur the rest of Europe to reform their economic and social policies and allow for greater growth in the future. Socialism in Europe has been dealt a devastating blow, country by country. The next will be Britain, where Gordon Brown’s sick joke of leadership will be crushed in the forthcoming election.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Violating Sex-offenders' Civil Liberties

By Phil Fraietta

In the midst of the great healthcare debate many otherwise news worthy stories are flying under the radar. But, the Associated Press did manage to report on a civil liberties atrocity that is taking place in the State of Georgia: the relocation of homeless sex offenders to camp in a wooded area.

Georgia has some of the toughest probation requirements for sex offenders in the Union. Georgia state law bans sex offenders from living, working or loitering within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, parks and other spots where children would likely gather. This strict ban has left homeless sex offenders with no other choice but to camp out in the woods.

According to Sarah Geraghty, an attorney with the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, there is only one homeless shelter in the entire State that meets the requirements, and that center only has 2 beds.

But, I am not writing this post to argue that the State has a requirement to provide housing for homeless sex offenders, I am instead arguing that imposing such strict violations on convicted sex offenders is a violation of human dignity.

By barring sex offenders from being within 1,000 feet of churches, the State has effectively excluded them from housing in churches like many homeless persons do. The strict 1,000 feet requirement also limits the amount of jobs these sex offenders could possibly find, when this number is already diminished given their ex-convict status.

The purpose of our prison system is to punish and rehabilitate. With respect to rehabilitation, if we do not let these people live normal lives after they are released, it is virtually impossible to fully integrate them back into society. The punishment is supposed to be the time spent in jail. Once you have finished your jail sentence the State should protect your rights equally to the rights of other citizens, as obligated by the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Those who support these strict limitations on the liberties of convicted sex offenders will say that the State is simply acting in the best interest of its citizens and is thus protecting these citizens’ rights. But, the fundamental issue here then becomes why are we releasing non-rehabilitated prisoners?

If the State of Georgia and others who support these limitations want to protect the law-abiding citizens then we ought to do it without violating the liberties of these convicted sex offenders. The best way to accomplish that is to simply increase the duration of their jail sentences and make it more difficult to receive probation.

What we mustn’t forget when discussing law and order is that convicts (in this case sex offenders) are humans too and therefore entitled to the same rights as the rest of us once they have served their time.