Civil Liberties

Freedom No Longer on the March

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A truly depressing message from Freedom House, the group that charts political rights and civil liberties around the world. From its 2009 tally:

Freedom retreated in much of the world in 2008, the third year of global decline as measured by Freedom House's annual survey of political rights and civil liberties which released today. Sub-Saharan Africa and the former Soviet Union saw the most reversals, while South Asia showed significant improvement.

"The advance of freedom in South Asia was a rare bright spot in a year that was otherwise marked by setbacks and stagnation," said Freedom House Director of Research Arch Puddington, who pegged the start of the global downturn to the period directly following the "color revolutions" in Europe. "Powerful regimes worldwide have reacted to the 'color revolutions' with calculated and forceful measures designed to suppress democratic reformers, international assistance to those reformers and ultimately the very idea of democracy itself."

Who were the "worst of the worst"?:

Of the 42 countries designated Not Free, eight received the survey's lowest possible ranking for both political rights and civil liberties: North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Libya, Sudan, Burma, Equatorial Guinea and Somalia. Two territories are in the same category: Tibet and Chechnya. Eleven other countries and territories received scores that were slightly better: Belarus, Chad, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Zimbabwe, South Ossetia and Western Sahara.

Whole thing here.

Go here to check out The Heritage Foundation's 2009 Index of Economic Freedom.

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  1. IIRC, that is an improvement for Cuba which, at least as of a few years ago, was in the group that scored rock bottom in both categories.

  2. They didn’t publish their methodology, so I’ve no idea what they’re using to determine “free” or “not free”. They’ve lumped North Korea (massive central government) in with Somalia (no central government, last I heard) and while I’ve no doubt that both are hellholes, by what metrics are they making that determination?

  3. Channeling a neo-con:

    Isn’t it obvious? These countries realized that the freedom-lover George W. Bush was about to leave office and be replaced by a Defeatocrat. So they decided it was OK to restrict freedom.

  4. You can smoke a cigarette in a restaurant in China.

  5. This study seems silly to me. I mean, do they really think that they can accurately quantify such a thing as “freedom?” I try to quantify very shakey qualitative things all the time in my own life, but holy crap I don’t send out press releases about it.

  6. John, I’m sure local Somalian warlords are as oppressive as any totalitarian dictator.

  7. Look how free Iraq is!

  8. DEMOCRACY!!!!

  9. Don’t worry! Be happy!

  10. You can smoke a cigarette in a restaurant in China.

    But what about gay marriage? THERE’S NO FREEDOM WITHOUT GAY MARRIAGE!

  11. You can smoke a cigarette in a restaurant in China.

    I’d venture a guess that population control is the reason for this policy.

  12. I’d venture a guess that population control is the reason for this policy.

    Anyone ever read a weird story where the mice get smart and start doing all the human behavior for population control instead of our putative reasons? And finally turn cannibal? Kind of a deranged version of Mrs. Frisby via Paul Ehrlich? No? Just me?

    Okay, never mind.

  13. Seems to me that you might be onto something here!

    http://www.anonweb.pro.tc

  14. They didn’t publish their methodology

    Actually, they do. Their website contains details on even the subquestions they use within each section.

  15. Reinmoose,

    I mean, do they really think that they can accurately quantify such a thing as “freedom?”

    Considering the levels of difference between the countries scoring 1s (US, most of Europe) and those scoring 7s (the ones listed), yeah, I think they can quantify freedom.

    Is there differences between the subscores of the US and Denmark accurate? Probably not, but both have main scores of 1,1 and that is accurate, when compared to a 4,4 of Venezuela or a 7,7 North Korea.

  16. Methodology for those too lazy to look it up themselves (Im looking at you, Joel).

  17. Is there differences between the subscores of the US and Denmark accurate? Probably not, but both have main scores of 1,1 and that is accurate, when compared to a 4,4 of Venezuela or a 7,7 North Korea.

    Venezuaela got a 4? But…but…they have a democratically elected government!

  18. robc is correct. I found both their pathetic methodology and political rights and civil liberties checklist with just a couple of clicks.

  19. Taktix,

    Venezuaela got a 4? But…but…they have a democratically elected government!

    Ive been using the Freedom House scores as part of my argument with joe over this very issue. Freedom House is more forgiving that I am, they still consider Venezuela an electoral democracy (but not a liberal democracy).

    Venezuela was a 2,3 as recently as 1998.

    Actually, just looked at the table of electoral democracies – as of this new report they no longer consider Venezuela to be an electoral democracy. Im not sure what the 2008 tipping point was, but it occurred.

  20. Reinmoose,

    What is pathetic?

    I mean, yeah, they were founded by Eleanor Roosevelt, so they arent exactly bastions of libertarianism. But considering the standards of freedom in the world, they are pushing things in the right direction.

  21. I mean, do they really think that they can accurately quantify such a thing as “freedom?”

    “My fellow Earthicans, we enjoy so much freedom, it’s almost sickening. We’re free to choose which hand our sex-monitoring chip is implanted in. And if we don’t want to pay our taxes, why, we’re free to spend a weekend with the Pain Monster!”

  22. They just sit there and decide the values of the categories on a 1 through 7 point scale, right? It makes it about as effective and honest as the rapture index

  23. Venezuaela got a 4? But…but…they have a democratically elected government!

    Which is probably why they’re still a 4.

  24. Reinmoose,

    You found the methodology, it is a lot more complex than that. They consider a lot of stuff and compile that to a 1-7 pt scale.

    What they do after they have that, other than publish it, I dont know. But, having the info is useful in and of itself.

    I have a very unlibertarian tariff idea – the freedom tariff. Take the two FH scores, square them, add them together and subtact 2. That is the percent of the additional freedom tariff.

    So, a 1,1 country would have a 0% freedom tariff added onto their goods. A 7,7 country would have a 96% freedom tariff.

    While it is a bad idea, I like it a lot better than giving China MFN status while tariffing Canadian wood and other stupid tariffs on European products and etc.

    The idea would be to encourage countries to become freer in order to get access to the US market cheaper. I dont know if it would work or not, probably not. So, probably a real bad idea.

  25. Ya! I roped joe out of lurk-mode.

    Good morning, sir…

  26. Which is probably why they’re still a 4.

    While they are still a 4, something changed to remove the “electoral democracy” tag from Venezuela. Im guessing their subcategory scores got lower.

    Last year “Electoral Process” scored an 8/12 while “Political Pluralism” scored an 8/16.

    Im guessing that one or the other of those went down this year (the details dont appear to be available yet).

  27. There are nine countries in the Americas that rank as Partially Free: Guatemala, Hondorus, Nicaragua, Haiti, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.

    robc, what do you think would get Colombia a better trade deal – the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, or the Freedom Tariff?

  28. Wow, Taktix, you got me to write a comment?

    On a Reason thread?

    That IS impressive.

    😉

  29. robc,

    Where are you seeing the electoral democracy list?

  30. Why no love for CATO’s Economic Freedom of the World index?
    (Putting in props for my pal Bob Lawson, who co-authors the report.)
    Speaking of econ profs, my son now has one of my old profs, who was the advisor to the university libertarian club, back in the day. I’m hoping he helps put Junior on the straight and narrow.

  31. CN – you know the great R.A. Lawson? 😀 He was my advisor at Capital when he was there and we started the “Libertarian Crusaders”.

    I’m glad he made it to Auburn; they didn’t appreciate him @ Capital.

  32. joe,

    On the freedom house website. Duh.

    Oh, you want more specifics?

    http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=439

    Click on the excel link.

  33. Well, one way that freedom house gets it wrong is that universal suffrage does *not* mean more freedom. One people figure out they can just vote to throw undesirables in jail or vote themselves goodies at others expense, you no longer have freedom.

  34. CN,

    Why no love for CATO’s Economic Freedom of the World index?

    Nothing wrong with it, but I figured when arguing with “people like joe”, having something they wont try to shoot down based on who is doing it is a good thing. I think it is MNG that has the problem with CATO stuff. Using FH saves me from a tiring argument. Plus, they have been doing it for much longer. More historical detail.

  35. For example, Hong Kong is arguably the freest country on the entire planet. Despite the fact that there is no “second amendment”, and land ownership is by lease instead of by deed, their outrageously high economic and social freedoms make up for it.

    Because of the fact that they don’t have universal suffrage, it gets poo-pooed by freedomhouse.

  36. TAO, there was once quite a little hotbed of quasi-libertarianism at Capital. I was sorry to see Bob leave town, but happy to see him doing well at Auburn.

  37. Because of the fact that they don’t have universal suffrage, it gets poo-pooed by freedomhouse.

    Are you saying countries shouldn’t get pooh-poohed for denying suffrage to some of its citizens?

  38. http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&country=7096&year=2006&view=mof

    It reads like it was written by leftist friend joe. It obsessed over positive rights claptrap.

  39. TAO – in case you’re interested (and didn’t know) Bob Lawson blogs regularly at http://www.divisionoflabour.com. (Remeber to spell “labour” the British way.)

  40. But what about Afghanistan and Iraq? Didn’t our dear leader liberate 60 million people!?

    -JTP

  41. “Are you saying countries shouldn’t get pooh-poohed for denying suffrage to some of its citizens?”

    If you want to play that game, I don’t think *anybody* should the right to vote. But if there is a state that taxes, those who stand to lose the most should have the most say in what happens to their forcibly confiscated wealth.

  42. I nominate Egosum for the House of Lords. Oh, wait. I don’t get to vote on that?

  43. It reads like it was written by leftist friend joe…If you want to play that game, I don’t think *anybody* should the right to vote.

    Fucking awesome.

    I’m going to go hang my head in shame over not loving freedom enough.

  44. Also I would like to add that universal suffrage doesn’t really exist since we deny the right to vote based upon arbitrary age and the commission of various felonies (of which many are victimless crimes).

  45. Venezuela under Chavez. The first number is political freedom, the second civil liberties.

    2002: 3,5
    2003: 3,4
    2004: 3,4
    2005, 3,4
    2006, 4,4
    2007: 4,4
    2008: 4,4

    Venezuela has seen a marginal decrease in political freedom, and a margin increase in civil liberties, according to Freedom House.

    How bad must the old regime have been for Hugo Chavez to represent an advance for civil liberties?

  46. @joe:

    In a state that fully respects negative liberty, universal suffrage would be a pointless “freedom” anyway. If you can’t vote to violate someone rights, you end up voting for merely symbolic nonsense like the national bird or what color the flag should be.

    With negative liberties, you express yourself in peaceful ways like creating art, crafting goods, and exchanging these for other goods and services.

    In today’s society, voting for more government power is an act of violence against your neighbor.

  47. The fact that under Chavez there is no net change in freedom just shows how useless Freedom House is.

  48. Egosum,
    Just curious – Do you vote?

  49. joe,

    The old regime had them at 2,3 in 1999. So, to answer your question, much better than Chavez, at one time.

    Or was there a coup between 99 and 02?

    BTW, Venezuela was a 1,3 when Chavez attempted his first coup.

  50. “Are you saying countries shouldn’t get pooh-poohed for denying suffrage to some of its citizens?”

    I think the counter would be that on the specific case of “current freedom” it isn’t necessarily much of an issue (though obviously it could become one).

    For example, a dictatorship could basically allow everyone to do whatever the hell they want. Nobody gets to vote, but it would obviously be very “free.”

    What FH is essentially doing is using correlations. For obvious reasons, places that deny voting rights also tend to deny its citizens all sorts of other things. His point with Hong Kong being that such isn’t necessarily always the case.

  51. Thru most of the 1980s, Venezuela was a 1,2. WTF happened to them?

    It looks like Chavez attempting his first coup was the start of the downhill.

  52. I’m not sure what the concept of political rights have to do with freedom. Like Egosumabbas, while I am not an anarchist, I do not see how one is an indicator of the other from a logical point of view. You can have a tyranical democracy, and a liberal non-democracy or not complete democracy.

  53. *concept…has

  54. “Egosum,
    Just curious – Do you vote?”

    The only moral justification I can give to voting is if it results in *not* harming your neighbor through the expansion of government, and if it restores negative liberty.

    So I will vote against tax referenda, vote libertarian, or for the opponent of a known authoritarian incumbent. Otherwise I’ll leave it blank.

  55. Wiki answers my questions:

    in 1989 the Carlos Andr?s P?rez administration enacted widely unpopular IMF-inspired structural adjustment programs. The programs’ backers sought to restore fiscal stability to Venezuela’s ailing economy by way of neoliberal policies, such as curtailing social spending and releasing longstanding price controls on many goods. These policies resulted in many hardships for Venezuela’s poor majority, and their resultant discontent erupted in the violent February 27, 1989 Caracazo riots-the most violent and destructive in Venezuelan history.

    After the coup attempt in 1992, Perez was impeached in 1993. And it went to hell.

  56. If you can’t vote to violate someone rights, you end up voting for merely symbolic nonsense like the national bird or what color the flag should be.

    Hey man, I don’t know about you, but I am thankful we got the Bald Eagle instead of some turkey. And have you *seen* some flags? Hideous! These are important matters, man!

  57. If all we voted for was the interior decor for the White House I would die a very happy man.

  58. Ego,

    Compare the rankings of countries listed as electoral democracies to those that are not. Look at all of the countries that are the freest, and all of those that are most unfree.

    I daresay that making the government answerable to the people does more to restrain assaults on freedom than to enable them.

  59. joe,

    I daresay that making the government answerable to the people does more to restrain assaults on freedom than to enable them.

    I agree, somewhat. Democracy is great for getting you to a 1,1 and maintaining that level but counterproductive for gettting you to 0,0 (Rainbow Puppy Island).

    If I was living in a 4,4 country, I would want real democracy. Once you get to 1,1 you got to decide whether to roll the dice or not.

    Of course, since democracy itself is the first number, it is a bit of a circular argument anyway.

  60. robc,

    Interesting find.

    Overall, the early years right around 1990 represent a time of great advances in freedom, according to Freedom House. For fairly obvious reasons.

    The IMF really fell into some “End of History” hubris, though.

  61. joe:

    Correlation is not causation. All I need is one example (Hong Kong) to prove your argument false.

  62. Actually, I guess RPI would be a 7,0. You dont need any political rights in libertopia.

  63. robc,

    I think that appending the word “somewhat” to any statements about the relationships between freedom, political rights, democracy, and civil liberties is a good call.

  64. Ego,

    Pray tell, what is my argument?

    I didn’t notice any words like “always,” “never,” or “inevitably” in my comments, so no, finding a single examples does not prove my argument false.

    BTW, correlation may not prove causation, but a negative correlation sure as hell DOES disprove causation.

  65. Also, I’d like to add that constitutional rights (the recognition of negative liberties) existed before universal suffrage. That also proves your argument false.

  66. You’re arguing that freedom is coincident with universal suffrage. I have sufficiently demolished your argument to my satisfaction.

  67. joe,

    Yeah, following the IMF’s ideas was a bad mistake on Perez’s part, but it looks like some of the things he did were reasonably good ideas. At the very least, nothing to throw a coup over. Heck, didnt even seem impeachable to me. Just vote in the other party and reverse the changes.

  68. Also joe, you’re a troll, as I’ve objectively proven before (if I could find that thread I’d link to it), and it was my mistake to engage you in any kind of argument or discussion. So I guess you win by default. You’re right, I’m wrong.

  69. You’re arguing that freedom is coincident with universal suffrage.

    I’m sorry, FAIL. Pray tell, point out my usage of the term “universal suffrage.”

    I have sufficiently demolished your argument to my satisfaction. You have very low standards, then. Your argument is laughable.

    The Constitution was written by a collection of elected representatives, operating under the most democratic system found on the planet at the time of its writing.

    What’s that? The most democratic polity on the planet produced the most rights-affirming, liberal Constitution on the planet?

    That’s unpossible.

  70. Also joe, you’re a troll…

    And also too, throwing out a personal insult as you scamper off is probably a good move.

    You’re right, I’m wrong. No shit.

  71. Of the 42 countries designated Not Free, eight received the survey’s lowest possible ranking for both political rights and civil liberties: North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Libya, Sudan, Burma, Equatorial Guinea and Somalia. Two territories are in the same category: Tibet and Chechnya. Eleven other countries and territories received scores that were slightly better: Belarus, Chad, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Zimbabwe, South Ossetia and Western Sahara.

    Hey, didn’t Iraq used to be on that list? What happened there?

    Ohhhhh… right.

  72. So I guess TallDave would agree that we should invade North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Libya, Sudan, Burma, Equatorial Guinea and Somalia, to start.
    Chop, chop, Obama!

  73. Hey, didn’t Iraq used to be on that list? What happened there?/i>

    It became as free as Iran, a 6,6.

  74. “joe | January 14, 2009, 12:07pm | #
    Hey, didn’t Iraq used to be on that list? What happened there?/i>

    It became as free as Iran, a 6,6.”

    Wow, that just blew up in TallDave’s face.

  75. Ah, I found the objective proof that joe is a troll, and that you ignore him at your own peril:
    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/130511.html#1161562

    QED.

  76. Any “low-hanging fruit” on that list for Obama to invade, joe?

  77. Wow, that just blew up in TallDave’s face.

    I’m trying to eat lunch here.

  78. I mean that you engage him at your own peril.

  79. Oh, just pipe down already and rub the sore spot. The grown ups are talking.

    More blowing up in TallDave’s face: Islamic countries in the Middle East and North Africa with higher freedom scores than Iraq:

    Algeria, Barhrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Pakistan (close enough), Quatar, UAE, Yemen.

    Even more fun for the neocons: guess what “outpost of liberal democracy” has the same score as Venezuela?

    Georgia, a 4,4.

  80. The Index of Economic Freedom’s report on Iraq for the sake of amusement:

    http://www.heritage.org/index/Country/Iraq

  81. What, no Arab Belgium?

  82. You know what would be an interesting exercise?

    Figuring out what correlates most closely to a good score on Freedom House’s civil liberties rankings: a good score on their political rights rankings, or a good score on Heritage’s economic freedom rankings.

  83. Also, an article on why the Heritage Foundations freedom index is only somewhat better than Freedom House’s index:

    http://www.mises.org/story/1724

    If LVMI could come out with their own freedom index that would be welcome.

  84. Joe–

    My guess is not all countries that get a good score on economic freedom are democracies, but all democracies get good scores on economic freedom.

    IIRC the score on the Heritage Economic Freedom Index DOES closely corrolate with GDP and material well-being.

  85. Ah, I found the objective proof that joe is a troll, and that you ignore him at your own peril

    Your notion of proof is pretty sorely lacking.

  86. More blowing up in TallDave’s face: Islamic countries in the Middle East and North Africa with higher freedom scores than Iraq:

    Of course, blowing back in joe’s face is the trend in Iraq.

    So everyone’s got a little sumpn on their face, mmkay?

  87. My guess is not all countries that get a good score on economic freedom are democracies, but all democracies get good scores on economic freedom.

    BZZZZZZZ

    France
    – 1,1 Freedom in the World
    – #64 on ranking of economic freedom

  88. I don’t recall ever making any statements that Iraq would be less free when Saddam was removed, or even that there would be absolutely no increase in freedom.

  89. @LMNOP

    I apologize if you’re unable to read and use logical reasoning such as A && B == C. That is to say, if A is true, and B is true, C must also be true.

  90. See also Brazil, Greece, and Italy

  91. You should open a Logic School, Ego.

    You can call it “The All Men Are John Skool of Logic.”

  92. I’m sure TallDave will bring us the NeoCon Freedom Index to prove us all wrong.

  93. BTW, note Iraq has a big up arrow. Still, it should be ranked much higher than it was (6,6). I expect that will be corrected once Obama takes office and there is less political pressure to declare, as Harry Raid, “The Iraq war is lost.”

    4,5 is probably a more accurate ranking. Iraq’s levels of violence are comparable to Brazil and its main problem now is corruption.

  94. Good God, it’s like I type, and then…

  95. Clearly this is all a case of MSM bias!

  96. Note that Iraq meets all the FH requirements for electoral democracy:

    In addition to providing numerical ratings, the survey assigns the designation “electoral democracy” to countries that have met certain minimum standards. In determining whether a country is an electoral democracy, Freedom House examines several key factors concerning the last major national election or elections.

    To qualify as an electoral democracy, a state must have satisfied the following criteria:

    A competitive, multiparty political system;
    Universal adult suffrage for all citizens (with exceptions for restrictions that states may legitimately place on citizens as sanctions for criminal offenses);
    Regularly contested elections conducted in conditions of ballot secrecy, reasonable ballot security, and in the absence of massive voter fraud, and that yield results that are representative of the public will;
    Significant public access of major political parties to the electorate through the media and through generally open political campaigning.

    All clearly true in Iraq, and certified by international observers.

    And a 6 is just absurd for Iraq:

    Rating of 6 – Countries and territories with political rights rated 6 have systems ruled by military juntas, one-party dictatorships, religious hierarchies, or autocrats.

  97. Venezuela: 4,4.

    Georgia: 4,4, with two occupied territories, one a 5,5 and one a 7,6.

    One of these countries is held out as a beacon of liberal democracy, and one is described as a dictatorship.

  98. I like how TallDave just makes up his own numbers.

  99. “Rating of 6 – Countries and territories with political rights rated 6 have systems ruled by military juntas, one-party dictatorships, religious hierarchies, or autocrats.”

    Iraq is ruled by the “Islamic Dawa Party”.

  100. …and then, when they saw my McCain sticker, they carved this FH on my face.

    And also too, when assigning a 1 to the United States for political rights, Freedom House ignored ACORN.

  101. 1. Absolute sovereignty belongs to Allah.

    2. Islamic injunctions are the basis of legislation. The legislative authority may enact any law not repugnant to Islam.

    3. The people, as vice-regents of Allah, are entrusted with legislative and executive powers.
    4. The jurist holding religious authority represents Islam. By confirming legislative and executive actions, he gives them legality.”

  102. I’m gonna go ahead and say Canada is a 3,4, because I don’t like their beer.

  103. Iraq is ruled by the “Islamic Dawa Party”.?

    …in partnership with what used to be called the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. They recently changed their name to “Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq,” I guess because a revolution is no longer necessary.

  104. This sounds more like where Iraq is now:

    Ratings of 3, 4, 5 – Countries and territories that have received a rating of 3, 4, or 5 range from those that are in at least partial compliance with virtually all checklist standards to those with a combination of high or medium scores for some questions and low or very low scores on other questions. The level of oppression increases at each successive rating level, including in the areas of censorship, political terror, and the prevention of free association. There are also many cases in which groups opposed to the state engage in political terror that undermines other freedoms.

    Iraq has hundreds of free radio, TV, and newspapers, as documented by Brookings.

    http://www.brookings.edu/saban/iraq-index.aspx

    My guess is they are weighting towards conditions in the first part of the year, when Basra and other places in the south were being seriously oppressed by Sadrists, before Maliki kicked them out around May (much to the shock of the media, which had been trumpeting Sadr as “the most powerful man in Iraq”). The up arrow probably represents the fact Iraq achieved 4s or 5s in the later half of this year.

    The provincial elections in early 2009 and parliamentary elections later in the year should further cement recognition of their steady march toward freedom.

    Heh, not that anyone will notice, with all the major news organizations abandoning the boredom of advancing peace and prosperity.

  105. One of these countries is held out as a beacon of liberal democracy, and one is described as a dictatorship.

    Umm, only one of those statements is true.

    Actually, I am wrong, you have claimed Venezuela as a democracy so I guess your statement is true.

    I dont claim either as a democracy. Apparently, my standard is stricter than FH, I move Venezuela from democracy to not years ago.

  106. 1. Absolute sovereignty belongs to God.

  107. Let me know win they change their name to the “Christian Evangelical Party” and call for “Christian Revolution” in the United States.

  108. Let me elucidate for those who failed their highschool boolean algebra class:

    “Troll (internet): A person who posts to a newsgroup, bulletin board, etc., in a way intended to anger other posters and to cause drama, or otherwise disrupt the group’s intended purpose.”

    I ask joe why he posts to reason. And that is to argue with those not on the left, reason posters being somewhat smarter, I guess because libertarianism is a consistent ideology.

    Now, purposely posting argumentatively on a blog with opposing views isn’t necessarily trolling. This is the case if the argument is supposed to lead to a greater truth, or trying to objectively dismantle an ideology to replace it with a more logically consistent one.

    My second question was therefore what ideology he was staking out. Well, he admitted there was no ideological position. Also, he’s not interested in “truth”, or he would concede when an argument is lost, won, or work with the other party on a better line of reason.

    The effects are obvious. Derailed threads, arguments degenerating into ad hominem attacks. Et cetera.

    Therefore, joe is a troll

  109. Some people have facts and figures.

    TallDave has guesses and his gut.

  110. robc,

    Are you kidding me?

    You haven’t read about Georgia being described as a beacon of liberal democracy?

    C’mon, I know you were keeping up with the news in 2008.

  111. This is the direction things are going:

    Here’s a story you don’t see very often. Iraq’s highest court told the Iraqi Parliament last Monday that it had no right to strip one of its members of immunity so he could be prosecuted for an alleged crime: visiting Israel for a seminar on counterterrorism. The Iraqi justices said the Sunni lawmaker, Mithal al-Alusi, had committed no crime and told the Parliament to back off.

    That’s not all. The Iraqi newspaper Al-Umma al-Iraqiyya carried an open letter signed by 400 Iraqi intellectuals, both Kurdish and Arab, defending Alusi. That takes a lot of courage and a lot of press freedom. I can’t imagine any other Arab country today where independent judges would tell the government it could not prosecute a parliamentarian for visiting Israel – and intellectuals would openly defend him in the press.

    In the case of Iraq, though, the federal high court, in a unanimous decision, vacated the Parliament’s rescinding of Alusi’s immunity, with the decision delivered personally by Chief Justice Medhat al-Mahmoud. The decision explained that although a 1950s-era law made traveling to Israel a crime punishable by death, Iraq’s new Constitution establishes freedom to travel. Therefore the Parliament’s move was “illegal and unconstitutional because the current Constitution does not prevent citizens from traveling to any country in the world,” Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, spokesman for the court, told The Associated Press. The judgment even made the Parliament speaker responsible for the expenses of the court and the defense counsel!

    Hopefully we’ll see more stories like this in the future.

  112. Heh, a Google for “the most powerful man in iraq” still comes back with more Al-Sadr results than any other. Seldom do memes fail so grandly.

  113. I ask again, TallDave: Which of the unfree countries should we invade next?

  114. As a matter of principle, it was wrong of us to commit pre-emptive war.

    However, objectively, in terms of negative liberty, Iraq is a better place. TallDave is correct.

    Since I’m not a utilitarian, I can’t argue post hoc that it was right for us to invade, or recommend we invade more countries for this reason.

    Neocons are simply liberals, mugged by reality in the sense that they are utilitarians.

  115. I ask again, joe: Which of the “low-hanging fruit” oppressed countries should we invade next?

  116. Just for the record, Iraq’s progress by the numbers:

    Independent TV stations: 54 (up from zero)
    Independent radio stations: 114 (up from zero)
    Independent newspapers/magazines: 268

    Free and fair elections: 3 (and counting)

    Pesonal/economic freedoms:
    Cell phones: 14 million: (up from ~0)
    Internet access: 1 million (up from ~0)
    Privately owned sutos: 4 million (up from 1.5M)
    Privately owned generators: 4000MW (up from ~0)

  117. Citizen Nothing,

    The only country on that list that has a situation that could be characterized as “low hanging fruit” would be Sudan, in particular, the Darfur region.

    I’ve never recommended “invading” any of them, though.

  118. TallDave knows more about Iraq than the Freedom House researchers who’ve actually, you know, been there.

  119. joe,

    You haven’t read about Georgia being described as a beacon of liberal democracy?

    Not here. If you want to argue with neocons, go to lgf.

  120. Also, joe, I rarely listen to anyone other than myself, and I never called Georgia a liberal democracy.

  121. TallDave and joe arguing on H&R makes me feel like Belgium.

  122. Oh, the 268 independent newspapers/magazines are also up from zero, in case that was unclear. Sorry.

    I ask again, TallDave: Which of the unfree countries should we invade next?

    Holding with past practice, we should only invade to remove regimes that have clearly violated Westphalian norms by seizing territory from other countries.

    If, for instance, North Kroea invaded the South, or Cuba launched a massive invasion of Costa Rica, the offending government should be removed, practical constraints allowing.

  123. @TallDave

    Which country did Saddam invade in 2003?

  124. Holding with past practice, we should only invade to remove regimes that have clearly violated Westphalian norms by seizing territory from other countries.

    And so the Iraq War was, what…the world most delayed reaction to an invasion ever?

    That’s…well, I don’t think there are words quite stupid enough in the English language…

  125. As a matter of principle, it was wrong of us to commit pre-emptive war.

    It’s a bit of a murky point, morally, chronologically, and legally. Iraq was clearly in violation of the cease-fire, so one might reasonably view the 1991-present situation as a single conflict. Did the fact tanks stopped outside of Baghdad make our later actions less moral than if we had gone ahead and removed Saddam in 1991?

    It’s hard to see how this is materially different than saying that once Germany’s armies of conquest had been defeated, we had no right to invade and remove the regime (which was trying to surrender, by some accounts), regardless of what atrocities were being committed within territory everyone agreed was theirs. Similar logic applies to Japan. I think it’s ipso facto obvious some regimes cannot be left in power postbellum.

    However, objectively, in terms of negative liberty, Iraq is a better place. TallDave is correct. Since I’m not a utilitarian, I can’t argue post hoc that it was right for us to invade, or recommend we invade more countries for this reason.

    Fair enough. I agree utility in the absence of aggression is not enough.

  126. Also, joe, I rarely listen to anyone other than myself, and I never called Georgia a liberal democracy.

    Heh. You got me there.

  127. My gut ranks Pakistan a 3,3. I’ll give Israel a 2,3. Oh, and Mexico a 1,2. Yeah, that sounds good.

  128. Therefore, joe is a troll

    Take that back.

  129. Thread! Thread! Speak to me, thread!

    Dammit, stay with me! Stay with me!

    One two three four five six seven eight nine ten blooooooooooooowwww.

    One two three four five six seven eight nine ten blooooooooooooooowwwww.

    Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!! Damn you, LurkerBold! Damn you to hell!

  130. Dude, Talldave, you should seriously consider buying some property over there. Sounds like it would be a great investment.

  131. I’M TYPING IN ALL CAPS LOOK AT ME!

  132. “land ownership is by lease instead of by deed, their outrageously high economic and social freedoms make up for it.”

    You see? It works for Hong Kong.

  133. MM, TallDave is borderline delusional. IIRC he said on one thread that Iraq is going to be the next vacation hot spot.

  134. If he had said “a vacation spot that is really hot” he would of got you there, and in rhyming scheme no less.

    A democracy doesn’t make you free, it just requires there be more people who don’t want you to be free. So instead of being ruled by a sick authoritarian, you are ruled by sick, old people and their cravings for pills.

  135. TallDave used to make me angry. Then he used to annoy me. Now it’s just sheer wonder and amazement at how well someone can lie to themselves.

  136. who called joe a troll? that is some serious bad karma man.

    anybody who does not think that venezuela is not free and awsome is just a total tool.

  137. like rev. wright said, americas chickens are coming home to roost. so will the linertatians.

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