July , 2006



As Baghdad burns, it seems George Bush’s secret experiment in Middle Eastern nation-building has foundered to the brink of collapse.  However, the deepening war between Sunnis and Shiites is not even the worst of the coming bad news in Iraq.  Where the greater danger lies, though, also presents a narrow window of opportunity.  Like so much in the Middle East, it involves a sectarian rivalry that has lasted for hundreds of years.

The Ottoman Empire ruled the Middle East and beyond for 500 years, including modern day Iraq.  The last vestige of the empire has been incorporated within the boundaries of modern Turkey, the large Kurdish region constituting southeastern Turkey that borders northern Iraq. 

If one believes Turkey has a fixation on dominating the small island of Cypress in the Mediterranean, they should also know an even greater fixation attaches to stopping its Kurds from breaking away from Turkey to form an independent nation.  A violent Kurdish insurgency has raged in Turkey for more than a generation. 

With the example of independence in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq and the opportunity of a safe haven for Turkish insurgents, Turkey is quite embattled from the consequences of Mr. Bush’s war.  Dozens of Turkish soldiers have died in recent weeks in attacks linked to “terrorist” safe havens in Iraq. 


The Turkish government is seriously considering an invasion of northern Iraq to quell their Kurdish rebels who are taking advantage of the chaos in Iraq.  The invasion could begin anytime.  It could be of limited scope or it could seek to occupy a large part of northern Iraq indefinitely.

  If Iran, with its own rebellious Kurdish region, had the example of a Turkish invasion before it, the ayatollahs are likely to reach the same conclusions as the Turks.  They know present American might is already stretched to its limit and America itself is bitterly divided at home.  

  In the event of an invasion of northern Iraq from either Turkey or Iran the U.S. military forces in the region will be hard-pressed to help the overmatched Iraqi Kurds.  If we do nothing the Kurdish region of Iraq will be occupied indefinitely by one or two foreign armies.  Whatever the outcome is on the ground, the newest bloodbath will be daunting.  Turkey will be forever lost as a NATO ally and could well itself become a hotbed of anti-Western terrorism.  If the United States is forced to leave Iraq in utter defeat, our only true friends in the region, the Kurds, will face murderous tyranny once again for generations.

   For the moment anyway, an alternative scenario is still within the grasp of the United States; the very scenario a wiser, more humble American strategy would have pursued in the first place when trying to dramatically change reality in a totalitarian, fragmented part of the world.

If it was announced tomorrow that U.S. air and ground forces now stationed in Iraq will be moved to the northern region, the threat of invasion from Turkey or Iran would all but disappear.  Kurdistan would shortly thereafter declare its independence as a nation.  The U.S. Army could then take a defensive posture along secured borders against known enemy armies: the kind of things the American army is intended for and, oh, so very good at.  The people of Kurdistan would remain united, effective and brave in their life or death enterprise alongside their great friend, America.   

   Only then would we possibly have a people in the Middle East, the new Kurdistan, ready for the long transition to the modern world.  This time, the effort in nation-building must be quite serious and well understood by the American public.  Yes, the Kurds actually will welcome our troops as liberators (quite rightly), but America would also have to devote all of the resources across the board needed to help Kurdistan grow to respect and defend their newly won sovereignty and constitutional freedom. Rebel cross-border provocations against Turkey or Iran must be ended while pursuing peaceful relations with all of Kurdistan’s neighbors.



  The rest of the former Iraq would have to be defended against.  The terrible fate of the people in central and southern Iraq will forever disgrace America's ill-conceived invasion. Hopefully, at some point, a rational order of sorts will develop in Arab Iraq thereby allowing the U.S. to begin to help Sunnis and Shiites as well as Kurds.  

  It would, of course, be quite a fierce brand of U.S. leadership to have chartered a course after the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan of going on to divide Kurdish Iraq from Saddam’s evil empire and trying to create a modern state in the region.  But a case for a new Kurdistan protected and nurtured by America is easily made from most foreign policy viewpoints if the invitation to come with our army and our help is being offered by unified, freedom loving Kurds.

That would have been the gamble in threatening times a great leader might have risked with American lives and treasure for a grand purpose.  It has now become America’s only plausible path left for Iraq since our President has already staked America’s prestige and the course of history to some level of success in his failing war.




  The Virginia Senate race is a match-up between a make-believe cowboy and a novelist wearing combat boots.  Beyond their unusual footwear, there are real differences between these candidates, even on the issues of the day.

    George Allen has hitched his star to George Bush’s foreign and domestic agenda since both men came to Washington after the 2000  election.  On the subject of Iraq, Allen offers little more than slogans with the implication being the Senator would simply continue to back the Bush Iraq policy in every way.  As a leading member of the most profligate borrow and spend Congress in the history of the Republic, Allen sees the economy as best served by accelerating the bankrupting of the nation’s finances with trillions more in new federal debt and spending.

    James Webb, a Republican turned Democrat just in time to run for high office, hardly seems a distinguished Southern Senator.  He is naïve in sometimes not knowing when the bare truth is not acceptable or when one needs to go for the opponent’s jugular.  As a candidate he has been given low marks from the media since he seems an amateur in the viper pit of Washington, D.C. and a is bit of a bore on the stump.  Only the foot-in-mouth redneck syndrome that has afflicted George Allen the last two months has kept this un-politician in the race. 


    But unlike most Democrats, Webb, a highly decorated combat Marine, does offer a more sophisticated foreign policy than the Texan cowboy has pursued in the White House.  Webb rejects a long-term American presence in Iraq and would make that plain to every nation in the Middle East. He advocates multilateral solutions for Iraq, including regional negotiations with Iran and Syria.  Webb had the sense to strongly oppose the Iraq adventure before it was launched. 

If America is to begin to regain its good name in the community of nations changes in policies and faces in Washington are quite necessary.  Virginia can help that process along by sending Jim Webb to the Senate. 



(Note:  The Tidewater Libertarian Party formally endorsed the write-in candidacy of Libertarian James Lark of Charlottesville in the Virginia Senate race.  The views expressed in this article are those of the author.)


    The 2004 mayor’s race in Virginia Beach was more than a surprisingly close re-election scare for Meyera Oberndorf.  The fact the Beach’s mayor for life squeaked by for a last hurrah is not the important story.

The voters of Virginia Beach had before them a very rare opportunity in modern American politics.  The choice between the policies of the major candidates could not be more stark or more consequential.  It was the choice between allowing people to have substantially greater freedom and control of their lives or ceding ever more authority over our lives to City Hall.  It was nothing like the usual choice between a Democrat and a Republican like candidate.

  On one side, Mayor Meyera has set the record for city spending over and over again.  In twenty-six years in public office, the mayor has voted for every tax increase that has come before the city council.  Her $400m venture to replace a half-booked, paid-for convention center is certainly the record-setting private sector boondoggle for the city.    Below that standard are the $80m parking garage the public can hardly use, the $50m to $90m performing arts theatre to duplicate other venues nearby, the $50m soccer stadium that is empty and not useful for much, the $5m Days Inn hotel episode, and, the hugest number of all, an explosion of government school spending way beyond the wage increases earned by the peasantry of the city.


Then, there was the alternative: the campaign of Robert Dean.

Here was a candidate who trusted the citizens to spend their own money more wisely than he or anyone else in local government is likely to do.  He is not pushing one or two groups’ agenda for everyone else to pay for.  Indeed, he is promising to kick the loafers off the government payroll permanently: corporate and otherwise.

More fundamentally, here is a man who believes the greater Pursuit of Happiness always lies in private enterprise and greater individual freedom: a man who believes there are no special categories of Americans: only Americans: who believes the fewer the laws, the fewer the restrictions the better.

  He has a philosophy and a political party that defines all of these unusual qualities in a modern candidate for public office.  That is what distinguished the Dean campaign as but a single event in a larger political movement, especially here in Hampton Roads.

  The next local libertarian campaign will not be a six-week wonder.  It will raise at least as much money from freedom loving citizens as the opposing special interests will ever pony up for Republicrats.  Count on it.  The Tidewater Libertarian Party is here to stay.

Thank you Robert Dean.



Since the time civilization began (and at all times before), there has been a very strong societal bias against homosexuality.   Set aside the moral blandishments and religious incantations.  Even put aside the absurdity of the entire homosexual enterprise from a Darwinian perspective. 

    The question to ask is how can the wrong parts ever work together in a compelling way?

One might think that the longest and most fundamental of societal prescriptions would have good staying power.  Here in our 21st Century, the American people are not lawfully allowed to gamble, to pay for sex, to smoke a joint or to make a substantial political contribution even in privacy of one’s own home.  Who is to say that homosexual sodomy should all of a sudden trump all of these more natural human desires?

  It turns out the Supreme Court of the United States is the body who has made the decision on this pecking order for the entire nation. 

    In the Supreme Court case, Mr. John Lawrence and Mr. Tyrone Garner had been caught in the act of anal sex when Houston police entered Lawrence’s apartment based on a citizen report that a gun had been fired in the building.  The commission of homosexual acts of this kind has been a crime in Texas since before it joined the Union.  Nonetheless, the high court found that Lawrence and Garner were fully within their rights to get it on in that way so long as they were not doing so in public.

Will this case be a precedent for other blows to the authority of big government?  Could this be the beginning of true liberation in every Americans’ personal life?  Leonard v. Texas (2003).

  Not so fast.  Our Supreme Court is very conservative and, you might say, Republican. 

    This court is not about to abolish the powers of government at all levels to regulate those behaviors that only affect you. Telling people how to conduct their private life is a huge, huge part of the conservative agenda. 

   But also rest assured this decision on the meaning of the Constitution has not one iota to do with establishing special “gay rights”.  There is little more repulsive to conservatives than the idea of special treatment for homosexuals.

  Unfortunately, from a legal point of view, this political circumstance ruled out the only somewhat logical basis under present law for the decision.  That is that homosexuals are being unlawfully discriminated against in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by state laws that ban gay sex only. 

    The road taken by the Supreme Court to decide the case appeared, for now, to be the libertarian position: that the conduct involved was peaceful and private, not affecting others and was therefore not the proper subject of a criminal statute.  If only that could be truly the vision of our Supreme Court!  But it was, thank god for gays, an excellent momentary compromise for the opposing factions within the court.

  The court believes it has hedged the law sufficiently by saying the right to privacy has special application only in one’s home. 

This legal distinction is contradicted by the other unwritten privacy right the Court has found in the Constitution: a woman’s right to contraception and abortion: all done outside the home.  The distinction made is obviously a very small thumb in a dike that is already being swamped with litigation citing Leonard v. Texas.

   That is because there is simply no logical difference to be made between the freedom to commit homosexual sodomy and a host of other still supposedly criminal acts.

    In the wake of Leonard v. Texas, whether the case is a pothead in his closet, a gambler playing on his home computer, a john getting his fix at home, or home-schoolers with very odd ideas, there has arisen a new, largely undefined constitutional right for courts to rule upon.

  So what is our Supreme Court to do when all of these issues arrive on its docket?  Shall they expand freedom in one’s personal life way, way beyond the doctrines of the religious right and law-enforcement interests as Leonard seems to require?  Or shall the court try to place an ill-fitting plug into the overflowing dam?

  Cynics, like this publication, place the odds at ten to one against the exercise of significantly greater overall freedom despite the ruling in Leonard.  Our Supreme Court remains very much statist in its heart with little prospect of change anytime soon.


  In the end, Leonard v. Texas will prove to be the product of about-to-retire Justices reaching for a historical ruling.   That will be an unsurprising observation. Not in Public Yet 


  The odd progeny of Leonard, though, will prove the present high court does not have a philosophy to see the principle of greater individual freedom through to its realization.  That will prove to be a resounding blow to our Constitution.

  Leonard shall have a more noble purpose, too.  The decision will become more and more the basis for wonderful, dry humor.

1.  What effect have years of wearing those black gowns had on our Supreme Court Justices?

2.  If anything goes at home, how about a Presidential bisexual bordello in the White House?  Rights are rights.

3.  What does the Pursuit of Happiness entail?  Only abortion and gay sex so far. 


    In the same way modern collectivism restricts freedom in America, it also corrupts our political language.  The damage done to the English language is already considerable.  Many of the most important words in the political lexicon have been distorted beyond recognition. 

    For example:


Liberal – Here is possibly the most flexible word in the history of language. 

  The classic meaning of the word from the 18th Century Age of Reason is the principled belief in free markets and free citizens.  Adam Smith and John Locke were “Liberals” (count me, too).

The word “liberal” morphed during Depression-era America into meaning the agents of political and economic change: the New Deal, The Great Society.  Unfortunately, the change being imposed was based on exactly the opposite philosophy from what Liberalism had always meant.  Suddenly, being liberal meant being in favor of a nearly all-powerful government instead of opposed to it.

    Liberal Tyrant     Already occupying both ends of a political spectrum spanning freedom to oppression, the word “liberal” is also

supposed to lie somewhere in the middle between Fascism and Communism on the modern political scale.  On that spectrum, the “Liberals” lie very close to the “Moderates” and the “Conservatives” all occupying the middling area known as “social democracy”.

    So, “Liberals” go well beyond simply taking both sides of an issue.  Yes Rush Limbaugh, they are, in fact, everywhere.

Conservative – Here is another term that means something quite different now than it used to mean.

As defined by Webster’s, a “conservative” is a person who believes in maintaining the present set of circumstances and social beliefs without much concern about changing anything.  A “conservative” focuses on the past as the strict guidepost for the present.  This philosophy “conserves” what one has, sometimes at the expense of what one might have.

  Yet, America’s conservatives are the new agents of change.  They want to change everything.  They want to abolish the 1960s and the 1970s along with abortion.  They want to be the incarnation of Archangel imposing the death penalty more frequently, the anvil of justice finally for evil drug users, the Bible’s revenge on homosexuals, the saviors of Social Security and Medicare, the teachers of Christian creationism and the all-time world champions of Big Money for Big Business from Big Government.  

  Yet, about the only changes modern “Conservatives” seem to have accomplished is shifting the tax burden downward and setting spending and borrowing records at all levels of government.  This result is, of course, the exact opposite of what most “conservative” rhetoric proposes.

  If the “Liberals” cannot be pinned down, then the “Conservatives” can be relied to effect changes often in exactly the opposite way from what they promise to do.    The Bible-Belt should be pleased conservatives have not taken any action on their social issues. Revolutionary Conservative

War – The word War has a specific legal meaning: that is: a full-fledged military conflict between two sovereign States.  Under our Constitution, the Congress is the sole body empowered to declare War, but has not done so since World War II despite conducting several real Wars around the world.

    The fact Congress has been sitting on its hands for sixty years has not stopped the multiplication of what passes for War: the war on drugs, the war on child abuse, the war on poverty, the cold war, the war on terror: each one a tired, overwrought analogy.   Even the war in Iraq is not a War.  When Saddam’s government fell, the War part was all over.  

    This is not just poor diction.  Some of these so-called wars are invoking the War powers of the Commander-in-Chief as permanent in nature: a true threat to the Republic’s freedom.

The Second Amendment – Nary a right-wing true believer does not always invoke the Second Amendment as the repository of Americans’ individual right to bear arms.  Yet, any informed person on this issue knows the repository is quite empty.  Rightly or wrongly, the Second Amendment freedoms have always solely been applied to members of the National Guard (“ …a well-regulated Militia...”).  The Second Amendment has never been the basis for invalidating gun legislation and never will be if past legal precedent is to mean anything.  There are presently no effective limits on the power of the Congress and the state legislatures to ban weapons.  Yet, it is easier for craven office-holders to rage over a nonexistent Constitutional protection than it is to pass legislation that would give Americans the guaranty of the right to keep and bear arms.  Too bad the public soaks up this ruse with gusto. 

Strict Constructionism -  Though not a phrase that is a proper part of the English language or even a law school curriculum, this empty idea is supposed to revolutionize the courts. 

    Parsing through the various uses of this phrase, it means the expansive application of the Bill of Rights sometimes expressed by the Earl Warren Court (Miranda v. Arizona, Gideon v. Wainright, Roe v. Wade) should be overruled by a new, conservative-dominated Court.    It is clear the phrase has little to do with methodology and everything to do with ideology.  Plainly, “strict constructionism” invites courts to ignore the usual way their power is limited, by following established precedent. 

    So, when freedom makes its comeback, we need to salvage our language, too.


Printed here is a story from The Economist magazine of London about the towering challenges independent business-people in Russia face thirteen years after the breakup of the Soviet Union.  It provides Americans with evidence that the struggle for greater economic freedom here at home pales in comparison to the tyranny and chaos that characterizes much of the rest of the world.


  “When Aleksei Panteliushin turned up at Plutos, his sausage factory in northern Moscow, one frosty morning last February, he found a gang of robust young men guarding the entrance as blacksmiths replaced the glass door with a steel one and reinforced the bars on the windows.  He called the police.  They went in, stayed for ten minutes-and left again.  He called the internal security agency, the FSB.  The same thing happened.  He called his lawyer, who tried to go in and was told that if he persisted, they would “rip his head off”.  When Mr. Panteliushin at last gained entry, together with a senior police officer, three of the goons introduced themselves as “Stanislav”, “Alexander” and “Sergei”.  They said they were Pluto’s new owners, and flourished a document from the justice ministry to prove it.

Shortly afterwards, they invited Mr. Panteliushin to a meeting and offered to buy his share in the company at well below market value.  They had already got his employees to sell them their shares far too cheaply, on pain of being fired.  Mr. Panteliushin declined.  Instead he wrote a statement, collected supporting signatures from some 40 employees, and-with the thugs openly tailing his car-filed the case with every law-enforcement agency he could think of.

    He was told that the authorities did not get involved in “ownership disputes”.  When he took his woes to his local tax officials, who at least were friendly, thanks to his annual Christmas gifts of sausages, they shrugged and showed him a sheaf of 15 or 20 similar complaints in the same district.  A journalist recommended the Economic Security Commission of the Moscow Mayor’s office, where an official listened to the tale.  The next day Mr Panteliushin got a call from a non-governmental organization called “Protection of Shareholders Rights”.  This turned out to consist of a pair of affable young men with no address on their business cards, which said they knew of those concerned and offered to “mediate”.

    They were also kind enough to explain how the business had been appropriated.  In November, a fictious shareholder meeting had been called.  It appointed a new factory director, who “sold” the factory to another firm, which sold it on again, re-registering the ownership each time.  This morass of paperwork would

make any legal challenge enormously complex. (It did not help that Mr. Panteliushin had kept his shareholder register in the company safe, allowing the bandits to destroy the evidence.)

Not that the “takeover” itself had been a snip:  what with bribes, hire of thugs, share buy-outs and lawyers’ fees; it had cost some $300,000.  The new owners, the mediators said, were now offering to sell the factory back for $6m; several times what Mr. Panteliushin says its worth…

    Owners may fight back if they have powerful connections.  When Ilim Pulp, Russia’s largest forestry company, in 2002 faced a takeover by Basic Element, a big aluminum and industrial conglomerate, Mr Putin reportedly intervened.  For those a little lower down the food chain, calling in a barrage of tax and health inspections may incline the new owners to negotiate.  Small fry, however, are powerless.  Mr. Panteliushin says various law-enforcement officials quoted him between $200,000 and $500,000 to get involved, but with no guarantee of success, because his opponents might pay more.

    Even if he could muster the paperwork and the nerve needed to go to court, the outcome again would probably depend on who had the bigger bank balance.  In the overnight train to the city of Penza, a young lawyer had relaxed enough after three toasts to explain why he joined the profession:  “In business disputes we sometimes have to be intermediaries.  I go to a judge and say, “I really need to win this case.”  He says, let’s say, 100,000 roubles.  I go to my client and tell him 130,000.”  He shrugs and raises his glass again.

    Mr. Panteliushin broke a rule that he mistakenly thought had been abolished:  that businesses need a krysha, or “roof”-a protector.  “We used to have a krysha-some local bandits, like everyone did.  Gradually the bandits went to jail, and we came under the wing of the authorities.  That turned out to be a big mistake.”

Everything hinges on Mr. Putin’s administrative reform.  The best way to cut official corruption is to reduce both the number of officials and the number of laws and regulations they can twist. 

    And Mr. Panteliushin?  His only recourse has been to get his story told.  After a local newspaper picked it up, the police started taking an interest again, and he learned that other companies that had been approached about buying his factory were backing off.  At the time of writing, he and the bandits were waiting it out.  Increasingly desperate to sell, they were phoning him for advice on making sausages, and offering to hire him back to run the business.”

    American businessmen usually do not face the state-imposed barriers to success of the kind Mr. Panteliushin has to contend with.  On Independence Day we all need to resolve that our nation’s freedoms will not be allowed to regress to that sad state of affairs.