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L. Neil Smith's
Number 430, August 12, 2007

"What could be worse?"

Letters to the Editor

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Letter from L. Neil Smith

Letter from A.X. Perez

Letter from Dave Schmidt

Letter from The Editor

Another Letter from A.X. Perez

Letter from Andrew Eggleston

Sean Gangol wrote in "This Hurricane Season":

I don't know if anyone else remembers the exact moment they lost all faith in the government. . .

I remember quite clearly. It was the summer of 1972 (I could probably find the month and day if I did some shovelling). I had already been a libertarian for ten years, but still thought minimal government was the only choice. Then I attended a seminar in Wichita, conducted by Robert LeFevre and underwritten by the Love Box Company and the local Seven-Up bottlers every year.

Bob maintained that "government is a disease masquerading as its own cure", and as evidence, he presented, among other things, Operation Keelhaul. (Warning: the Wikipedia entry on this travesty is woefully inadequate.) Bob said that a drunken FDR and his equally drunken buddy Winston Churchill—deliberately kept that way by Stalin—had agreed at the Yalta conference to use their troops to round up everybody in western Europe who'd found the war a handy way to refugee the hell out of Russia.

The story is also told in George N. Crocker's Roosevelt's Road to Russia.

Also rounded up were Russian expatriates who had left before, during, and after World War I, and others, their children, maybe, who had never even seen Russia. The Wiki piece emphasizes Austria as the place this was done. Bob talked about France and I have since met the son of a US Army officer who helped carry the program out there. He died feeling ashamed of having obeyed those orders.

They were all put in the same kind of cattle cars that had taken Jews to the concentration camps, shipped back to the Motherland (couple of syllables missing in that term, I think), and shot to death within hours. Estimates of their number vary. The governments involved will admit to a couple hundred thousand. A couple hundred thousand! Bob, who was in Europe at the time, said it was more like two million.

That was it for me and government. Any government, all government. And it's why I don't give a rusty fuck, to quote Rod Steiger, what we replace it with. Especially given the events of the past six years, what could be worse?

L. Neil Smith

Re: "Libertarians and Iraq", by Daniel G. Jennings

History marches on inevitably, this is true. The problem is that it marches on people instead of cobblestones. The state as we know it is dying. Dying animals can claw and bite quite dangerously in their death throes. I don't want to get marched on, I don't want to get mauled as a consequence of someone else's actions.

The War in Iraq is not legal. Congress did not declare war, it authorized the President to overthrow the legal government of a sovereign nation. Technically this means that combatants on both sides and civilians caught in the middle are denied the protection of the Laws of War. Yes, there are supposed to be other protocols in place to protect the rights of people caught up in war, but the difference is much less pleasantly analogous to the difference between being married and shacking up. The formal arrangement protects people's rights so much better.

Regardless of how well justified we were or weren't in going into Iraq (and I have personal friends on both sides of the issue whom I refuse to pick quarrels with over this), this failure to act in a legal manner creates a problem.

I also have a problem with the small minority of US troops who have committed crimes (abusing prisoners, murder rapes, etc.) being tried in the US instead of Iraq. Read the complaints against the Crown in the US Declaration of Independence and you will see why.

Nations must act legally during time of war so that they can live together during peacetime.

My second problem is that I am seriously concerned that the war on terrorism will be used as a pretext to deny people their civil rights in this country. One goal of terrorism has always been to provoke the target government to so egregiously violate people's rights as to force a rebellion (strangely, this works best against new democracies with weak traditions of liberty). Some believe that governments fake or tolerate acts of terrorism to create a pretext for restricting civil rights.

Too often as this leads to absolutist governments the only alternative we are given to tyranny of one form is another form of tyranny, to one tyrant is another (Stalin or Hitler, Lincoln or Davis).

"The darkest hour is always before the dawn." Unless we keep pressure on the government to act legally, morally, and with full regard for the rights of citizens and foreigners where our troops are operating we may be entering our darkest hour. The rise of the Roman Empire was the death of the Roman Republic, and the Empire survived in the West over four hundred years, plus nearly another half millennia as the Byzantine Empire. I have no wish to have my self and/or my lineal and collateral descendants live under a full blown American tyranny.

Right now we must write, talk, and vote to "secure for ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty." Talking and voting is cheaper than armed struggle in both money and blood, and I'm not a particularly wealthy man.

A.X. Perez

Dear Neil,

I enjoyed your article "The Morning Mail." I'm no longer surprised at the NRA's capacity for self-destructive stupidity; one of the things I've learned working for large corporations is that when somebody begins a sentence with "Surely they would never. . .," you can be certain that whatever the speaker says next will come to pass within a short time.

I'm actually writing about the response you received from Ms. Williamson. I seem to be running across this sort of thing more often lately, often enough that I've given it a name: The Argument from Personal Drama. As you point out, it's not really an argument, but I don't know what else to call it, and the name serves me well enough as a convenience-label.

The Argument from Personal Drama has the following format: "How dare you criticize [some government gang]? You've never done [their allegedly dangerous job]. They selflessly risk their lives every day [allegedly protecting you and your fellow human beings from some alleged danger]. So go [perform some anatomically impossible act]."

An example of the Argument from Personal Drama is "End the War on Drugs? I guess you've never had to comfort the grieving widow at the funeral of a brother officer who was shot in the face while bravely kicking in the door of a meth lab. So blow it out your ass."

Another example is Ms. Williamson's reply to your article.

Of course, the Argument from Personal Drama is gibberish. It implies that government enforcers are above criticism because they have dangerous jobs and are devoted to serving the public. Even if the premises of the argument were true (they're not), they wouldn't justify the conclusion.

Libertatis Aequilibritas,
Dave Schmidt
Signatory, Covenant of Unanimous Consent

Y2K bug in global "warming" data analysis:

The Editor

Remember Flip Wilson? He was an incredibly funny man.

He added two important lines to our lexicon. The first is "What you see is what you get." This eventually became the inspiration of the phrase WYSIWYG. and anyone who has worked with late '80's early '90's computer word processing programs knows what the fuss is about.

The second is "The Devil made me do it." Usually when people say this we know they did something wrong and need to work on a sense of responsibility.

There have in fact been crooked politicians in the Christian and Moslem Worlds who use the excuse "God made me do it," to justify their abuses of power. We can recognize them as tyrants and wannabe tyrants.

Flip and his alter ego Geraldine were more fun.

A.X. Perez

This is an excellent article on gun ownership, and its in Newsweek!

The article includes photos and narration in a multimedia presentation.

Andrew Eggleston

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