• posted a message on Brainstorming - Queen Marchesa, Queen of Politics
    Agreed. The consistency of having some draw power in the Command Zone is awesome, but running more “become the Monarch” cards would sort of be like running more Fog in an Angus Mackenzie deck. Actually come to think of it, it would be even more redundant than that, because the Monarch emblem stays in the game even after Marchesa is killed. In fact, Marchesa is probably one of the Commanders with the most lingering impact that way, and you’d rarely want to cast her more than once per game.

    Better support would be to run more Haste, recursion, and evasion to give you a card at the end of your turn. I think cards like Nether Traitor would be good includes.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Is Infect an easy win in EDH?
    I am racking my brain to figure out what advantages are offered by an Infect strategy, but I can’t think of anything that really sticks. And, I have played a fair bit of Infect, from Skittles, to traditional aggro Infect with Doran, to one shot Infect with Rafiq, Mimeoplasm, or Xenagos. In all cases, I decided that other decks were better.

    If it is traditional aggro, the problem is with traditional aggro. You lose to wipes. If two or more wipes happen between Turn 5 and Turn 10, you will definitely lose, and being outside of that Turn 10 window means that you’ll lose even in these “Spirit of EDH” groups who hold mostly to that baseline. It’s strategically identical to running something like Jor Kadeen, Gahiji Honored One, or similar, and so likewise, it’s generally inferior to either General damage strategies, Spellslinger strategies, and just ordinary GoodStuff strategies that win with tired cards like Craterhoof Behemoth.

    If on the other hand it is some one-shot pump sequence with Grafted Exoskeleton , Glistening Oil, Phyresis, Triumph of the Hordes or something involving an incidental Inkmoth Nexus or Plague Myr and pumps you’d be running anyway, then keep in mind that there are a lot of cards that just make for explosive sequences. It could be Malignus with Double Strike, some Breath of Fury play, or just a Commander pumped up for General damage. Case in point, Blightsteel Colossus might as well be Phage the Untouchable, no difference whatsoever. It is a one shot kill, of which there are plenty.

    Really just substitution any combo here, not even necessarily having to do with creatures or permanents, and it’s the same thing. In fact, with Maze of Ith being in the format, it is really clunky to ever try to arm up one creature for a single shot combat kill. It’s probably better than trying to swarm out 3 other players with 2-3 drops, but immensely vulnerable to Maze, or any other removal of basically any sort that a normal opponent could expect to be running. Lots and lots of combo sequences don’t present as many vulnerabilities to interaction.

    So, if your group has an issue with Infect, then that’s sad, but you always have stronger strategies that are available to you.

    In my mind, if you hadn’t had Delirium in that spot with Blightsteel, your group would be of the exact opposite opinion about Infect, without anything of the rules of Infect in the format having changed. Evidently, they just don’t like people winning. Nothing you can do about that, because after all, winning is the objective of the game.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on To atheists and agnostics: what makes Christianity unappealing or unacceptable to you?
    Quote from chrishouse »


    Nope. Atheism is not the claim that there is no god; it's the rejection of the claim that there is. If you say "there's a god," and I reply with "I reject that claim," I'm an atheist, but I am NOT asserting that there ISN'T a god. Am I splitting hairs? No, because it's a vital distinction. Atheism is the default position on an extraordinary claim absent any compelling evidence to accept the claim. There are, of course, plenty of people who would claim "there is no god." I would call them anti-theists, different from atheists. To your other point, atheists aren't the ones defining god. When I say I don't believe in god, I'm saying I don't believe in whatever god you're currently talking about and yourself defining. That's why any reasonable discussion on this topic should start with a clear definition of god. It just so happens that there are many similarities in people's definition, especially among Christians, so by generalizing with "I don't believe in god," there's a pretty good chance what I'm talking about is pretty close to what you're talking about. But feel free to define god any way you want and I'll let you know if I believe in what you're describing.


    These terms aren’t the most set in stone anywhere, so I’m not going to say you’re wrong. But I will say that just about every discussion I’ve ever had, and every public source of information I could find on these terms expressed the following understanding of them:


    From Dictionary.com:

    Atheism (n.) - the doctrine or belief that there is no God.

    Mirriam-Webester online:

    Atheism (n.) - the doctrine that there is no deity


    It comes from the root word “theos” or “God” and the prefix “a-” used to frame something in the negative. You’re only an atheist if you’re declaring an affirmative belief that there is no God. If like in your example, someone claims that there is a God, then you reject that claim, that’s not an affirmative belief. That’s simply saying you’re not a follower of that belief. Whereas in my example above, if you make the argument that bone cancer exists, therefore no God, you are stating the atheist doctrine that enough evidence exists to prove that there is no God.


    From the same sources on the term “Agnostic”, speaking generally and not specifically related to the belief in deities:

    Dictionary.com

    Agnostic (n.) - a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.

    Mirriam-Webster online:

    Agnostic (n.) - a person who does not believe or is unsure of something


    Basically, there are two definitions here. The first one is a capital-letter “Agonstic”, which is the affirmative believe that knowledge on a given topic is impossible. The second one is small letter “agnostic”, which can be a simple statement that you don’t believe in an idea. If you simply say you don’t believe, you might be capital “A” Agnostic as well, in the event that you also affirmatively believe that knowledge on that topic is impossible. You might also be an Anti-theist. But you can’t be an Atheist, because an Atheist believes that he has knowledge bearing on the existence of God, that knowledge is possible, and that it indicates affirmatively that there is no such God.


    On the term ““antitheist”, there is no entry in either of those dictionary sources for the term. But Wikipedia lays it out as “opposition” to theism, or most commonly opposition to organized religions that profess belief in God. So in your example, if you’re in a conversation with someone who says they believe in God, then you say you don’t, and you think that belief is dangerous, harmful, so on, that makes you an anti-theist. You may also be either an Agnostic or an Atheist (not both), or you might be only a small-letter agnostic to the premise of the existence of a deity.

    Quote from chrishouse »

    This is an interesting take, but I tend to disagree with placing atheism on a spectrum like this. My biggest beef is that it conflates knowledge with belief. I view knowledge as more than just a really really really strong belief. I see it as a whole different thing.

    I also take a very binary approach to belief. You either accept a claim and thus "believe" it - i.e. place a "true" label on it - or you don't. Anything other than a full acceptance of a claim is a rejection of the claim, even if you're uncertain or fall somewhere else on that spectrum. Because, again, the rejection of a claim is NOT the same as an assertion of an opposing claim. The lack of absolute certainty in either direction doesn't preclude you from being entirely on one side or the other.

    What this all really boils down to is burden of proof. Only those who make a positive claim have the burden to provide evidence in support of their claim. Both "a god exists" and "no god exists" are positive claims that require evidence in order to justify their acceptance. As an atheist, I'm not making any claims, I'm just shaking my head in disbelief until someone convinces me.


    Actually, there is no philosophical difference between knowledge and belief. There might be a dictionary difference and a difference in science, but that only turns on what kind of evidence is accepted in proof of a premise. People will usually take “knowledge” as having a basis in some form of falsifiable, physical evidence that either turns on human powers of observation or the use of measuring tools. But first to really make that distinction, you’d have to be holding out some philosophy like Objectivism or Naturalism, where you hold those physical means of observation on a higher order than other inputs. Someone who doesn’t ascribe to that philosophy could always enter in and hold those means of observation subordinate to others, like whatever inputs such as emotion, etc, forms the basis of their proof. But in terms of that philosophical proof, stating you believe something based on such and such is the exact same as saying you know something, based on such and such. There’s also no inbuilt degree of certainty like you’re saying, with knowledge on the absolute certainty side. There are no absolutes really, only increasingly fundamental premises that a proof is based on, such as the Cartesian idea of whether what you’re observing corresponds to some objective reality.

    Granted, those beliefs about the cardinality of measurable, objective evidence tend to go hand in hand with Agnosticism. But if you are talking about this “knowledge”, what you’re really discussing is the capital “A” Agnosticism, which is the belief that no knowledge of God is possible. It’s still a belief. In fact, if you delve deep enough philosophically, you won’t find any physical evidence at all on the kinds of questions that are asked, and so you’ll ultimately have to come out on one end other the other on these things you call “beliefs”. In actuality, capital-letter “Science” and other post-modern schools of thought actually are premised on these belief sets, like Naturalism.

    So, I’m behind you 100% that both saying there is a God and saying there isn’t one are positive claims. I just think the definitions you laid out are the reverse of what most people have them. If you’re saying that Theists haven’t met their burden of proof to you and you’re shaking your head until someone comes with more evidence either way, that seems to me that you’re Agnostic. An Atheist would say something like, “Oh, so you’re God is all-powerful and infinitely benevolent? Well, my cat got hit by a car. No benevolent God would’ve let that happen, ergo no such God exists.”
    Posted in: Religion
  • posted a message on To atheists and agnostics: what makes Christianity unappealing or unacceptable to you?
    Quote from chrishouse »


    Similarly, I hate the idea that personal beliefs exist in some sort of vacuum - that it's perfectly fine for anyone to believe anything they want because they're not hurting anyone. The truth is, unreasonable adherence to supernatural beliefs DO, in fact, have an impact on others. A person's beliefs influence - if not dictate - their day to day actions. Voting is a good example (but not the only example). A push towards the notion that "faith" is a virtuous and helpful thing is at best misguided and at worst extremely dangerous.

    And just to be extremely pedantic:
    Quote from Magicman657 »
    Beliefs like Buddhism, Atheism

    Atheism is not a belief. Smile


    I don’t think that topic is pedantic at all. Is Atheism a belief? Yes, I think it definitely is. It’s the belief that there is no God. It’s a negative belief rather than an affirmative belief, but it’s a belief. A different example, I believe that there is no gas in my tank when the needle reads empty. But, I still have a belief about the contents of my gas tank.

    I saw a video on my Facebook feed recently of an “Atheist” who was asked what he would do if he died, and sure enough, found God at the Pearly Gates. His answer was that he’d refuse to acknowledge God as his ruler, and not want to have any part of this “Heaven” of his, because how could he allow things like bone cancer in children?

    That right there is an Atheist. His position is that things like bone cancer are evidence for the affirmative conclusion that no being fitting the definition of “God” exists. It’s much more than just saying that he’s weighed the evidence offered in support of God and found it insufficient to form a belief in God. He’s saying that there is enough evidence that he is compelled to believe the opposite, that there is no God.


    What I still find irredeemably derivative about Atheism is that it still relies on some definition of “God” to say that someone doesn’t believe in that God. And Atheists not believing in God and all, they are not in the business of putting out their definition of the God that they don’t believe in. So, they have to borrow some other group’s definition of God and point to it, saying this is the God that we don’t believe in.

    Back to the OP’s question of what is unappealing to Atheists about Christianity, answering the question of whose God the Atheists in question don’t believe in will reveal their position on that group. If the answer is that they just don’t like the way the members of that group behave, or what the effects of that belief set have been, then you probably don’t have an Athiest.
    Posted in: Religion
  • posted a message on Sol Ring
    Quote from Sheldon »
    Quote from Impossible »
    That's what grinds my gears, for lack of a better phrase. I find the "perceived barrier to entry" to be an outright terrible criteria for banning. Cards should be banned for power reasons. Period.


    "Should" is a dangerous word, because it implies a single desired end state, not to mention having moralistic overtones. Please explain the "should" to me.


    Well, I'm sure you'll agree that there is some desired end state for the ban list. I’m not sure you mean by “moralistic overtones”, but every logical action has a desired outcome. The goal with game design, of course, is to make a better game. You know, a game that fosters continuous development the way Magic does, not just reward chance outcomes like Craps. If you intend to say that multiple factors distinguish a good game from a bad one, then I agree. But, the goal of game design is the improvement of the game in one or more aspects.

    To make a case for why “power reasons” should be the touchstone, it’s because it’s a necessary ingredient for there to be any rational basis for a ban in the first place. Unless a threshold of power it met, a card’s ban has no effect. If you ban Grizzly Bears, there is no effect whatsoever on the game. If you ban Sol Ring, if nothing else, every player has to take it out of every single deck. That’s not to say less commonly occurring cards must be less powerful, but the net magnitude of the effect that a card’s ban would have is precisely its power level. In the same way, it’s the tractability of the card in game (more powerful cards are harder to deal with) and its magnitude of impact on the game (more powerful cards do more stuff). Every ban ever is traceable to a very powerful card.

    Basically, it seems like the logical inverse of what it’s often taken to mean. It’s not to say, there are more powerful cards than SP/PT/etc, so ban them. It’s the idea that unless those cards were powerful enough, there would be no impetus whatsoever to ban them.

    Posted in: Commander Rules Discussion Forum
  • posted a message on Iona, Shield of Emeria
    My brief take on Iona, it could easily be banned, no one would be the worse for it, and a ton of groups would be better for it. I think this is the card that shows most clearly the different “factions” of EDH. It’s easily understood in that light how one faction could be raising outcry for a ban harder than for any other card, but then have those outcries fall on deaf ears anyway. Rundown of each faction and their position on it…

    The self-styled “cEDH” community, they don’t really care about any ban that the RC makes, because those bans have zero impact. The cards that do actually define the cEDH format have been legal for a long time, and each member of this group has had plenty of chance to determine whether cEDH with the official ban list is a game they like. Whether the experience could be improved to appeal to a wider base is of no moment, because they don’t view this as the role of the ban list. For this group, Iona is just one more card like Stasis, Contamination, Void Winnower, etc, that a certain strategy will use as a centerpiece with a ton of surrounding support in the deck, and then succeed or fail. Only, it happens to be among the worst options to fill this role, so it’s rarely if ever used. Consequently, no one from this stripe is throwing their chip in the pile to ban the card.

    The “spirit of EDH” crowd, they evidently don’t play cards that contain the word “can’t”. They don’t play cards that restrict untapping or mana-production of any kind, and Iona on the surface doesn’t look unique among that set of cards. As to that set of cards, like I’ve heard it said before, it makes them sleep better at night knowing that it is around, in case some group, somewhere still can’t stop UGx goodstuff despite all the bans that they’ve made specifically targeted at the archetype. And because in a meta with exclusively GoodStuff staples and incredibly disadvantaged “casual” decks, goodstuff is the only baseline, they only make bans that affect the placement of the goodstuff goalpost. Only that puts this group in a position where they have to outsource the evaluation of the cumulative negative experiences that would cause a ban under any other pretext. And evidently, they can’t parse through it well enough to figure out why the “mainstream” set of EDH players is having the kind of problem with Iona that is fundamentally different from problems with Stasis and other denial cards.

    And as for the “mainstream” EDH community, the problem is precisely that Iona is a lot different from all of those. It’s not getting policed in the way other denial cards might, either inside the game or outside of it, exactly because its effect is limited to a single color. Where all 3 of the other players in a pod might reasonably be expected to find a Naturalize for Winter Orb, the third and fourth players not affected by Iona will not see a reason to deal with it. After the game also, there’s just this one player griping about a card that “dies to removal”, and everyone else went on with the game. That’s aside from certain factors like the fact it’s been printed relatively recently, is a big creature of a subtype that sees a lot of play, and other facts that lead to it showing up in decks far more common than a card like Choke. The underlying reason that it keeps creating bad experiences in multiplayer is because it does what very few other cards in the multiplayer context do – demand an answer only from the players who are affected by it, while exclusively restriction the ability of those players to deal with it at the same time. There are a few cards like it, but most of them are unplayable for being too narrow, or they are not nearly as strong in the abstract. But it’s the externalization onto other players of the problem Iona poses that causes it to go unsolved. Call it “interacts badly with the rules of the format” if you want to, but naming a color to lock out makes for a recipe where the usual multiplayer dynamic doesn’t function.
    Posted in: Commander Rules Discussion Forum
  • posted a message on Donald Trump's Presidency
    If history shows anything, third parties don't take the place of major parties in the US system. What you'd see are primaries that are increasingly hotly contested, and lots of individuals jumping from one major party to the other, until the issues themselves change. Usually this means a subtle shift rather than an entire rebranding. You'll only find an actual party change in name where there is an extremely intransigent faction (such as with Slavery pre-Civil War), that also continues to rack up local elections. And, they have to rack up those elections at such landslides that local party leaders would opt for continuing to win their elections rather than having any national support.

    Something I remembered recently with the whole Churchill being compared to Trump line, Churchill actually changed parties twice. The political landscape was extremely volatile then in the UK, so there were enough voters who sided with him each time. Of course, he made a career of taking unpopular positions, and it didn't always work out. Relevant to now, maybe the Left after Hillary becomes isolationist under a guy like Sanders, then a lot of the hawkish, pro-business people on the Right jump ship to contest primaries in Blue states.
    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on libertarianism.
    Quote from MTGTCG »
    For your first point, the officers that you hire can not take over what you own. That is theft, which is a violation of the law. If these officers resist the owner's word, force may be initiated upon them by the owner or by an entity the owner may hire. There will not be a shortage of police, why?, because the demand for police will cause their to be enough police to meet the demand, it's economics.


    So let me understand you, you’re saying that people can’t violate the law? So all the murder, theft, violence, etc, that happens on a daily basis doesn’t actually happen, because it’s against the law? That seems to be what you’re saying. I’m explaining the massive corruption that would ensue by entrusting the management of infrastructure to the private market, and you’re saying that won’t happen because it’s against the law.

    People are concerned with the practicality of regulation and the methods of enforcement (police, the courts, etc), and all you are saying in rebuttal is that these things are of no concern as long as there is a law written on a piece of paper somewhere.

    Or alternatively, that it is no indication of a less efficient society if we have to employ unlimited numbers of police and private security forces just in order to get from our homes to our places of work. Not compelling.

    Quote from MTGTCG »
    Your second example of possible failure of libertarian society is not limited to libertarian societies, your example can happen anywhere the world where there is a river. This action described in your example would be punished in a libertarian society just as it would in any other society.


    Quote from MTGTCG »
    Your third example can happen today as well.


    Except in a libertarian society, we are relying on individuals to privately carry this out, rather than the public administration to do so. Nowhere did I say that these problems are created by Libertarianism, just that Libertarianism is very bad at dealing with them. And again, you’re saying that the bare fact of there being problems means that there will be solutions.

    Quote from MTGTCG »
    Your fourth example has a person that decides to break a previously agreed upon contract by increasing the price of his labor. The customers have the right not to pay what they didnt agree upon.


    Actually, they have the common law right to insist on performance, or an injunction, incidental damages, or any other remedy available at law. But if someone hikes the prices on a toll road, I have to stay home instead of going to work, and Libertarianism doesn’t magically teleport me to my office. Point being, the fact of there being some solution to these issues at law pays no acknowledgment to how efficient those solutions actually are. You’re the one here with the burden to prove your case that the private sector is best able to solve market inefficiencies, but all you’re doing is stating very circularly that the issues will be solved due simply to the fact that they’re perceived.

    Can you explain with any specificity how those solutions would be more efficient than the ones we currently have? Or state a historical example of how they are? No, you can’t, because every ounce of evidence weighs against you on that.

    Quote from MTGTCG »
    Your fifth example could be avoided if the person had set up an insurance plan, had chosen a medical centre that allowed payment overtime, or by the genorosity of a centre to do the operation for a lower cost. Also not everything is perfect in a libertarian society, there will be deaths.


    So now, you’re holding out insurance claims adjusters as these infallible saints of the free market? Absent regulations from the New Deal to Dodd-Frank, which every Libertarian says were a bad idea, Insurance Companies would be nothing more than Ponzi schemes, where everyone pays a small fee upfront, then the minute anything actually becomes due, the ownership vanishes like a thief in the night.

    In a Libertarian society, you could either have insurance firms, or you could have limited liability, credit, passive investment, and everything that actually makes the free markets liquid. You couldn’t have both. So now, you are arguing for the repeal of the financial system in favor of everyone hoarding gold in their cellars.

    And generosity? Ok, how great of you to offer that there will be generous people under a Libertarian system that will look at all the inane failures of their government to act, then step up and do the right thing anyway. Except, how about you analyze those incentives for generosity? If you believe in markets, certainly you can do that. In Libertarianism, you are relying on the undiluted altruism of medical practitioners to grant free services to nearly everyone in need of them. In a regulated economic system, you are giving the medical field government subsidies, recourse in court, and most importantly, an economic system that actually holds private insurance companies accountable.

    Quote from MTGTCG »
    Taxation is the government taking your money with force in order to use it to their desire. How is this not theft?


    Ok, example. Let’s say that WOTC announces the release of a new card game, and you pre-order it because you liked Magic enough to buy it instead of all of the other TCG’s available. Now the card game comes out, and it sucks. Theft?

    Or let’s say that Wizards says that it’s kept records of all the people who’ve bought Magic products, and announces that they’re going to give out free packs of their new game apportioned among those who bought Magic products (whether they like it or not). The new game sucks. Theft?

    Or how about this new card game is something that you go out and collect physically in the streets, sort of like Pokemon, such that no individual can really be excluded from it, and the costs of printing and distributing the cards have to be borne equally by everyone in the form of increased tournament entry fees, packs, etc, for Magic. And on top of that, you never actually bought any Magic, but your parents did who came before you. You just get to play the new game, if you want. Theft?

    Ok, I hope it's clear that paying for something that you can't get behind 100% isn't theft, simply because you don't like the outcome. But now instead of a game of cards, substitute in something that is so critical and fundamental to everyone (participation in society) that no one would ever knowingly refuse it, and would be impossible to deprive someone of even at their request. Now, you have the agreement between government and its citizens. It doesn’t require your consent, approval, or even awareness of how it is benefiting you. But it does offer you the opportunity for input and participation. And, you do have to pay taxes for it to exist. Not theft. Not even close. The thief can always decide not to rob you, but the government (thankfully) can’t decide to repudiate its commitment to you. Why should you be allowed to repudiate your commitment to it?


    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on libertarianism.
    @OP: I think, as others have pointed out, I believe you're misframing libertarianism. Admittedly, there's also a major question of defining terms. Libertarianism as a political philosophy is different from Libertarians as in the political party. I recommend you step back from trying to frame particular opinions on social welfare and the like and instead bring it back down to the fundamental concepts. The best manifestation of this that I've seen was this article that I highly recommend you read.

    It's entirely possible to ask these questions of libertarian philosophy (as presented in the linked article) and come to different conclusions than yours, and in fact I do, but the key part is understanding where your position is arising from.

    As a point of interest, I would pose this to you: if you fear the government exerting expanding power and control, how do you differentiate this from corporations exerting expanding power and control?


    Thanks for the link, I enjoyed the read. Not necessarily directed at anyone, here are my thoughts:

    I'm not very interested in the first question. I'm a sort-of small-l libertarian, not a large-L Libertarian. And I'm deeply uncomfortable about labeling myself as even a small-l libertarian. I've explained why before: I think that embracing political labels leads to bad behavior. I ought to support something because I have thought it through and think it's right, not because members of my tribe support it and insecurity and cognitive dissonance will set in if I disagree with them.


    It’s hard to disagree with the imperative that people evaluate the issues beneath the labels. That said, doing so represents demands far in excess of what the US constitutional system was designed to impose on voters. It is great to have transparent, public discourse at a sophisticated level, but ultimately what is expressed in the ballot box is this “large-R/large-D” persuasion. Identifying which tribe you belong to is all that our system ever set out to require of voters. And, I think asking what is expected from whom is important particularly in the US constitutional system of separated powers, as the rest of this author’s blog post will further make clear:

    1) Does the United States Constitution permit the government to do this?


    Whose role is it to ask this question? It’s not the voter. What might surprise many people, it’s not even really a question for the legislature or the president. It’s uniquely the purview of the US Supreme Court to decide the limits of government power.

    This acknowledges a reality that the founders understood very well, that every government everywhere is empowered to do anything that it wants to do. It’s the Captain Jack Sparrow principle, what a man can do and what a man can’t do. It requires no less than the force of some other government power to restrain what another part of the government decides to do. The Legislative enacts policy that it likes, the Executive enforces it, and if the citizens don’t think it’s constitutional, then they take their case to court. Of course the other branches knowing that the Court can invalidate their policy, they are incentivized to make law that will actually pass muster. But the Constitution didn’t appoint them authorities on Constitutional law, or even ask them to be experts on it, just require an oath to uphold it.

    Much less is required of the actual voter. So, what small-l libertarianism says about a candidate’s campaign platform is still unclear. That the candidate believes that the Constitution is of some role in determining the limits of government power? Everyone agrees on that. Is libertarianism saying other political philosophies don’t believe in Constitutional limits of power?

    2) What would this power look like if it were expanded dramatically in scope or in time?


    Have you guys ever read a Justice Scalia opinion? Basically to him, any expanded read of a Constitutional principle meant that we’d soon be living the worst parts of Brave New World and 1984.Again, the Judicial decides precisely those questions of how each law and decision affects the precedents going into the future.

    But what beliefs small-l libertarianism requires of voters and the other branches of government, I still have no idea.

    3) What would this obligation look like if exercised indifferently by unaccountable people? 4) What would your worst enemy do with this power?


    Ok, here are questions of practicality that belongs to the elected branches of government. But still, I’m failing to see here how the libertarianism political philosophy distinguishes itself. Everyone agrees that there should be enforcement mechanisms in government policy, or there would be no policy. That includes sensible appointments to government agencies, and a lot of states have given enforcement mechanisms directly to voters, such as review, recall, ballot initiatives, so on. Does libertarianism say that current enforcement mechanisms don’t go far enough? It seems to me from the platform that the opposite is true, too much enforcement. Or that a law shouldn’t be enacted in the first place unless the libertarian God has a perfect, prescient foreknowledge that the enforcement mechanisms in it will be easy to implement and foolproof?

    The premise of governance in a Republic is that the voters will elect people that they find moral and trustworthy, who will make appointments down the line of people that they find moral and trustworthy. The major parties believe, and the Constitution provides, that voters will elect different representatives if they find the current ones “indifferent”, “unaccountable”, or “enemies”. But how a law passed by libertarian lawmakers looks different from one passed by an ordinary, prudent lawmaker, I still have no idea.

    5) Does this power make a choice about morals, ethics, or risk that individuals ought to make?


    I think I might sort of understand where this is coming from. Modern opinion like Lawrence v. Texas, Williams v. Morgan says that “morality” (whatever that is taken to mean) cannot serve as the rational/legitimate basis for legislation. On this point, Libertarians seem to identify more with this view on the Left than with the opposing view on the Right. Of course the question is, what is this “morality” that has no place in public policy?

    What is evident from opinions like those, and the dissents, is that what’s meant by “morality” here is actually just anything that has a basis in tradition, religion, or any such similar things that those decision makers have subjectively defined as obsolete or antiquated. It cannot possibly mean any and all things that society values as wholesome, praiseworthy, prudent, or ethical. In fact, the only thing that government has ever done is endeavor to establish policy based on its choice of what is beneficial to those it intends to serve. How you actually draw the line between judgments that governments can make, or only individuals can make? Small-letter libertarianism doesn’t make that at any more clear. It only says that there is such a line (which again, was never in dispute). Big-letter Libertarianism, though, seems to agree with the Left that this means only secular influences ought to be the basis of policy. But this is platform, not principle.

    So in the end, we’re circling back again on these things either being within the power of the Court to determine, or intended to be checked by the Republic form of governance where voters can elect to replace government officials that they don’t find themselves in agreement with. I’m still not sure how libertarianism distinguishes itself, other than just being prepossessed with these Constitutional issues that bear little relevance to the process of setting an election platform.

    6) Does this power represent the government putting its thumb on the scales to prefer some competitors over others, perhaps based on their relative power and influence?


    Wait, as I recall, the elements of a “protected class” under strict scrutiny analysis include groups that are “unable to protect themselves through the normal political process”, or are “subject to historical prejudice”.

    So first, if you think that you are disadvantaged (really, who doesn’t?), then the mechanism of electing new representatives is your recourse, and if that is ineffective, you can ask for protection from the Court. It looks like another case of libertarianism trying to encourage voters to elect Constitutional Law scholars to office.

    Second, is this a libertarian saying that competitors in a market should not use their power and influence to tip the scales? It’s probably nested somewhere in this idea that the process of getting a government license to do business, as in the example used in the blog, is more easily identifiable as a government action. Now that there, that’s businesses using government to distort markets, which is a bit no-no right? Whereas, all of the ways a government sets conditions for markets and enables trade that are often taken for granted are to be, you know, taken for granted. Roads, police, so on. As already posted above, where do you draw the line? Major parties are engaged in drawing that line, meanwhile libertarians are patting themselves on the back for reminding everyone that there is a line.

    7) Does this power set up a conflict between laws and rights?


    First, there is actually no difference between “negative” rights and “positive” rights. For every right that there is, language allows for it to be stated in either the affirmative or the negative. I have a right to bear arms, or I have a right for the government not to deprive me of or restrain my ability to buy and own weapons. I have a right to education, or I have a right for the government not to restrain States and other institutions in their ability to provide me affordable education. Lawyers and judges being very crafty in their word choice, the jurisprudence also bears out that principle. Analysis only looks to whether there is a “benefit” or a “duty”, not whether it’s characterized by action or inaction.

    What this is actually saying is that Constitutional Law (labeled by the author as “rights”) should be on a higher order than other policy (labeled as “law”). Again, this issue seems to be both extremely well settled, and completely outside the domain of the representative elections process. Any conflict within a single law would be interpreted by the judiciary.

    8) Are we giving this power to the right level of government?


    There is no article of the Constitution that appoints an ombudsman to decide what issue belongs to which branch. Good thing, or they would just decide that every issue belongs to them. As above, it’s the what you can do, what you can’t do principle. The powers of every branch have been shaped like that, from Marbury v Madison onward. The founders seem to me to have envisaged that, especially with the 10th amendment. In really bad cases too, there is a process for Constitutional amendments.

    So where that puts small-l libertarians on where each issue should go, I still have no idea. Yes, wow, there are governing principles. Where is the person I’m supposed to be voting for on the issues, though?

    9) Are we acting out of fear, anger, or self-promotion?


    Stop electing people that are acting on fear, anger or self-promotion, then. Except, how does a law written by a libertarian following this principle actually read any differently than a law written by some other lawmaker (except for not being named after dead kids)? Or is this some sort of contrarian virtue-signaling, where libertarian candidates profess that they are not prone to fear, anger and self-promotion, then go on inciting anger and self-promoting as normal?

    10) Is there any evidence the government is any good at this?


    Is there any evidence in the history of human behavior that people can assess themselves as unfit? Then after doing so, they relinquish or fail to act on power they’ve been given? Or relinquish power under any conditions, at all? By the way they value checks and balances, those in the libertarian camp should probably agree that, no, people don’t do this.

    Again, how the American Constitutional system is set up is that the branches of government are the only ones that can challenge one another. It is understood that they will undertake any and every action that they believe serves the best interests of their constituents. If it turns out they suck at it, elect different people. But candidate who professes that his plan after taking office is to do nothing without asking a judge if they should is either lying or profoundly mistaken about the nature of the office that they are running for.



    To summarize, I get it that judicial nominations are the role of some offices that run for election. But, it is a real strain to make this small-l libertarianism here your calling card, because it’s nothing more than a principle that judges would use to interpret issues of Constitutional Law. It’s not long after that point that candidates will ready their list of intended judicial nominees, and then start dragging them along on the campaign trail and deferring to them for whether they’d be allowed to do such and such without making James Madison cry.

    At best, the principle will put a voter into the Republican party on economic policy, and possibly into the Democrat party on foreign policy and social issues. That’s no indication that you’re led by principle, and the rest of us are led by partisan groupthink. If there are enough people who are of a like mind on the actual issues, then put the issues into the election platform. We will see if it works out (history lesson, it didn’t).

    At worst though, libertarianism is a get out of jail free card for obstructionism, filibuster, and inaction. Don’t like something? Don’t have any ideas on how to do it better? Easy, just claim that it’s government overreach! Doing nothing was the right course. Campaign on a principle that government is ineffective at doing anything, and then once elected, set out to make sure that it continues to be ineffective.

    Posted in: Debate
  • posted a message on Donald Trump's Presidency
    Reviewing the news from the campaign this morning, and based on what I’m seeing, people still aren’t taking the threat of a Trump presidency seriously. Categories from most frequently appearing to least:

    1) News that Trump said Obama is the “founder” of ISIS, Hillary the “co-founder”. This is the briefest excerpt I could find of the discussion between Trump and a right-leaning radio news outlet:

    Last night you said the president was the founder of ISIS," Hewitt said. "I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace."

    "No, I meant he's the founder of ISIS," Trump replied. "I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton."

    Hewitt pressed Trump, explaining that Obama has not been "sympathetic" to the terrorist organization, "hates them," and is "trying to kill them."

    "I don't care," Trump said. "He was the founder. His — the way he got out of Iraq was that — that was the founding of ISIS, OK?"

    The New York businessman added again that he would characterize Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, as the "cofounder." He had previously referred to her as the founder of the group.

    "Let me ask you, do you like that?" Trump asked Hewitt.

    Hewitt, not amused, replied: "I don't."

    "I think I would say they created, they lost the peace. They created the Libyan vacuum, they created the vacuum into which ISIS came, but they didn't create ISIS," the radio host said. "That's what I would say."

    "Well, I disagree," Trump said.

    The Republican presidential nominee, mirroring Hewitt's argument, contended that Obama's policies allowed ISIS to form.

    "Therefore, he was the founder of ISIS," Trump said.

    An exasperated Hewitt responded by saying he'd "just use different language to communicate" the message.


    Ok, so the case here could be nothing worse than Trump is stupid. He doesn’t know the meaning of the word “founder”, and he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know. Or, maybe that he is knowingly and willfully straining the limits of language to inflame negative opinion of the Left. But clear from the context, he’s saying that the power vacuum from US military mismanagement created ISIS, not that he believes Obama literally went around the Middle East organizing a militant group in support of an Islamic State. So, Trump is unethical and stupid? News?

    2) More opinion on results from polls showing Clinton is in the lead, and how the Trump camp is trying to deny it.

    So the case against Trump here, he is a bad candidate because he is a loser? Sound familiar? At best, this is discussion outside of the issues of this race. At worst, it’s ad hominem. I mean, I understand the newsworthiness of the polls themselves, but it doesn’t explain why the sheer volume of this back and forth far exceeds the volume on actual issues.

    3) Politically slanted news related to the Olympics

    Such and such local newspaper failed to mention the name of African American swimmer Simone Manuel who won Gold. More about how the sports casting of the Olympics contain “micro-aggressions” against women. Again, I’m not debating the newsworthiness of the Olympics. I’m just shocked that it’s getting more volume of coverage than the below statement by Trump:


    4) Trump says that under his administration US Citizens suspected of terrorism will be tried in military tribunals at GitMo. (http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/291208-trump-says-hed-prosecute-us-citizens-in-guantanamo)

    The case against Trump here is nothing short of the fact that he is a dictator. He is a modern day Mao, Mussolini, Napoleon, Hilter, who intends to make unrestrained use of the powers of the state against its citizens, at the sole discretion of his cabinet. And, this ranks 4th in overall importance?

    As I’ve said before, detracting from these points and many, many other similar instances from Trump just makes this seem like any other election, and not the threat to free society in the US that it actually is.
    Posted in: Debate
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