Steel City Cowboy

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Do You Even Know What That Means?

A recent poll states that 45% of the American public wants President Bush to face impeachment.

In all fairness to the President, I think that any survey that asks such a question should follow up with these ones and likewise report the results:

1. Do you know what impeachment is? Please explain the process.
2. For which crimes, specifically, should the President be impeached?

Call me a crazy, conclusion-jumping kangaroo in man's clothing, but I'd be willing to bet that about 15% of the public (and not necessarily a full overlap with the 45%) could describe impeachment and removal with any kind of material accuracy. Actual crimes... that would be another tough one. Torture at Gitmo! Er... He's a Nazi! Or. Something. The pollster could then give the respondents a remedial civics lesson about what impeachment is, how it works, and how you actually have to have, you know, a law that's been violated. And just not liking the guy, or shouting "Abu Ghraib!" doesn't cut it.

Personally, I think the impeachment of Bill Clinton and subsequent trial was a pathetic, politically motivated smear tactic and a horrible precedent to set. And for the current President? You voted for him, you've got him for four years. Suck it up, people.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Ron Paul Would Be Proud

One of the current Republican Presidential candidates who has absolutely no chance of winning the nomination is Ron Paul. Not heard of Mr. Paul? That's no surprise.

His views are radically in conflict with almost any other candidate or political group you care to name. He's a libertarian. Actually, calling him a libertarian is kind of like saying that Jesse Owens could "sort of run." The guy is hard core to the point of utter impracticality. "Mainstream" libertarians, and we're not the most practical lot in the world though we think we are, shake their heads when he walks into the room.

Why do I even mention this?

Well, this morning I was behind a Subaru driver with a silly bumper sticker. His sticker read "I'd vote for Ron Paul" and sported a picture of Thomas Jefferson. Invoking the opinions of the dead is silly, in my opinion, and as long as you're going down the road of making up supporting blurbs from people who really aren't available to give them, you might as well go the whole way and just start making up quotes from God.

Back to Mr. Paul and the Subaru driver. One of the precepts of libertarianism, and one to which I ascribe, is a fairly strict reading of "my right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins." The current sense of the society in which we live seems to be more of "my right to think something ends when you're offended by what you construe might have been a dirty look." Many people are quick to sue or seek legal recourse against others for imagined or intangible slights, and that goes against my beliefs. I would extrapolate from Ron Paul's political philosophy that both him and his followers would take an especially narrow viewpoint of the aforementioned axiom.

So, imagine my surprise when the Subaru driver ahead of me spent a few seconds dumping his cigarette out the window of his car, then rubbing his fingers together to makes sure that no bits of tobacco remained. Littering like this is such a clear violation of libertarian principles that I was at first surprised, then pleased by the irony.

In economic terms, littering is saying "I have a cost, which is to properly dispose of my own waste products, that I will completely ignore and abrogate to humanity in general, and to my local government specifically." Libertarianism says that each person pays their own way. And the more strict your viewpoint on libertarianism, the more you should strive to take care of your own costs.

So, person in the Subaru, I'm sure Ron Paul and Thomas Jefferson would have been proud of you this morning. I can see them both walking around Montecello, shooting the breeze about personal responsibility and tossing their Snickers bar wrappers on the ground.

"Thomas!" says Ron. "How dare you cause others cost for your own unrighteous convenience?"

"Oh Ron,"Jefferson laughs, "I would never dream of such an affront! I've placed my billing address upon the wrapper, so that whoever picks it up may properly invoice my estate for the labor. In fact, I've created an economic opportunity for some poor sod!"

And Ron Paul would smile.

[Please note: comments regarding why Ron Paul is the only potential Savior of America will be removed, unless they are amusing to a general audience.]